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Title: Human predatory behavior and the social implications of communal hunting based on evidence from the TD10.2 bison bone bed at Gran Dolina (Atapuerca, Spain)
Authors: Rodríguez-Hidalgo, Antonio
Saladié Ballesté, Palmira
Ollé Cañellas, Andreu
Arsuaga, Juan Luis
Bermúdez de Castro, José María
Carbonell, Eudald
Keywords: Zooarcheology;Taphonomy;Subsistence;Lower Paleolithic;Large game;Kill site
Issue Date: Apr-2017
Publisher: Elsevier
Citation: Journal of Human Evolution, 2017, 105, 89-122
Abstract: Zooarcheological research is an important tool in reconstructing subsistence, as well as for inferring relevant aspects regarding social behavior in the past. The organization of hunting parties, forms of predation (number and rate of animals slaughtered), and the technology used (tactics and tools) must be taken into account in the identification and classification of hunting methods in prehistory. The archeological recognition of communal hunting reflects an interest in evolutionary terms and their inherent implications for anticipatory capacities, social complexity, and the development of cognitive tools, such as articulated language. Late and Middle Paleolithic faunal assemblages in Europe have produced convincing evidence of communal hunting of large ungulates allowing for the formation of hypotheses concerning the skills of Neanderthals anatomically modern humans as social predators. However, the emergence of this cooperative behavior is not currently understood. Here, faunal analysis, based on traditional/long-established zooarcheological methods, of nearly 25,000 faunal remains from the "bison bone bed" layer of the TD10.2 sub-unit at Gran Dolina, Atapuerca (Spain) is presented. In addition, other datasets related to the archeo-stratigraphy, paleo-landscape, paleo-environmental proxies, lithic assemblage, and ethno-archeological information of communal hunting have been considered in order to adopt a holistic approach to an investigation of the subsistence strategies developed during deposition of the archeological remains. The results indicate a monospecific assemblage heavily dominated by axial bison elements. The abundance of anthropogenic modifications and the anatomical profile are in concordance with early primary access to carcasses and the development of systematic butchering focused on the exploitation of meat and fat for transportation of high-yield elements to somewhere out of the cave. Together with a catastrophic and seasonal mortality pattern, the results indicate the procurement of bison by communal hunting as early as circa 400 kyr. This suggests that the cognitive, social, and technological capabilities required for successful communal hunting were at least fully developed among the pre-Neanderthal paleodeme of Atapuerca during the Lower Paleolithic. Similarly, the early existence of mass communal hunting as a predation technique informs our understanding of the early emergence of predatory skills similar to those exhibited by modern communal hunters.
ISSN: 0047-2484
DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2017.01.007
Type: Article
Appears in Collections:Paleobiología

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