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Title: Isotopic analysis of Middle Pleistocene fauna from Gran Dolina (Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain) and their implications for hominin paleoecology
Authors: García García, Nuria
Feranec, Robert S.
Saladié Ballesté, Palmira
Rodríguez-Hidalgo, Antonio
Ollé Cañellas, Andreu
Carbonell, Eudald
Bermúdez de Castro, José María
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: International Union for Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences (IUPPS)
Citation: XVII World UISPP Congress, 2014, p. 48-49
Abstract: Determining the paleoecology and paleoenvironments at fossil localities provides a context in which specific hypotheses can be made about how particular taxa survived and evolved over time. For example, the assumption that Neanderthals consumed predominantly meat derived from large game is supported by the abundance of ungulate bones associated with the Mousterian lithic industry. This idea is reinforced by microwear and stable isotope analyses that identify Neanderthals as dependent on a high protein diet derived mainly from large and medium-sized herbivores. Conversely, other researchers argue that these humans consumed a more varied diet including smaller game, plants, and marine resources. Exploring the paleoenvironment and availability of resources on the landscape would permit a specific test between these different paleodietary proposals (i.e., protein-dominated vs. varied diet) for Neanderthals. This particular study aims to determine the paleoecological conditions present in northernIberiaduring the Middle Pleistocene with the ultimate goal of resolving the resources available to the populations of humans within the Neanderthal lineage living there. Data for this study was obtained from stable isotope analyses of tooth enamel from large mammals (Bison, Cervus, Equus, Panthera) coming from level TD10 of Gran Dolina (Sierra de Atapuerca,Burgos,Spain). TD10 is a layer dated to between 379±57 ka and 418± 63 ka (MIS 11) and shows evidence of humans from the Neanderthal lineage on the landscape. Some of the analyzed remains were consumed by humans and therefore can help decipher the subsistence strategies developed by hominids in the European Middle Pleistocene. Two sampling techniques were utilized in this study: most specimens were bulk sampled which provides an average value for diet and habitat use while the tooth was growing. Three samples of bison were serially sampled, taking multiple samples perpendicular to the growth axis of the tooth, which provides finer detail into diet and habitat use. The results obtained from our samples indicate a habitat dominated by C3 plants. The bovid samples had the highest δ13C values indicating eating in open habitats. The mean δ13C values for Cervus and Equus are the same, suggesting that horses andred deer overlap in diet/habitat use. For δ18O values, no significant differences were observed among the studied taxa. The values from TD10 are very similar to data from a previous study that included specimens from Atapuerca Faunal Unit 6. The serial samples of the three bison teeth reveal little carbon isotope variation over the time when the tooth was mineralizing. The bison also show the most positive carbon isotope values among the sampled herbivores within TD 10. The isotope values that we find support the idea that there were open habitats as well as more wooded or forested habitats as a Mediterranean habitat would show, as was suggested for this layer from previous studies based on faunal and pollen analysis.
Type: Presentation
Appears in Collections:Congresos, encuentros científicos y estancias de investigación

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