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Title: Dietary traits of ungulates in northeastern Iberian Peninsula: did these Neanderthal preys show adaptive behaviour to local habitats during the Middle Palaeolithic?
Authors: Sánchez-Hernández, Carlos
Gourichon, Lionel
Soler i Subils, Joaquim
Soler i Masferrer, Narcís
Blasco, Ruth
Rosell, Jordi
Rivals, Florent
Keywords: Late Pleistocene;Paleodiet;Paleoenvironment;Adaptive behaviour;Dental wear;Dental cementum
Issue Date: Aug-2020
Publisher: Elsevier
Citation: Quaternary International, 2020, 557, 47-62
Abstract: Diet is closely connected to the habitat exploited by ungulates and is one of the main links between them and the surrounding environment. When climatic fluctuations modified the vegetal coverture and habitat, ungulates' dietary behaviours and ecological niches could have been impacted severely. During the Middle Palaeolithic, the Mediterranean peninsulas were known to be climatic refuges because they seemed less susceptible to these changes. However, the altitude or latitude of a given site may have resulted in local particularities that could have influenced the vegetal composition and therefore the feeding behaviour of ungulates from the same region. In the present research we investigate whether these variables necessitated adaptive changes in the feeding behaviours of ungulates hunted by Neanderthals through the study of two archaeological sites, Arbreda Cave (Serinyà, Girona, Spain) and Teixoneres Cave (Moià, Barcelona, Spain). We use a combined analysis of dental wear (meso- and microwear) and dental cementum analysis of Cervus elaphus, Equus ferus, and Equus hydruntinus teeth. Dental wear reflects the immediate and average annual dietary traits of ungulates as well as the environmental conditions in the surroundings. Dental cementum analysis allows accurately identifying the season of ungulate death and linking an individual's dietary preferences with the seasonal conditions in its last moments of life. As results, red deer at both sites were mixed-feeders in the annual cycle. A slight increase in grass consumption was identified during winter for populations from sub-unit IIIa of Teixoneres Cave. Horse and wild ass based their diet on grasses, but the latter showed seasonal adaptation toward a mixed consumption of grasses and concentrate resources (i.e. leaves, shrubs, forbs, and other woody plants). The seasonal feeding adaptations observed for some of the studied species did not strongly influence their general dietary trends because they kept feeding on the same resources annually.
ISSN: 1040-6182
DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2020.01.008
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Type: Article
Appears in Collections:Arqueología

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