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Title: Discontinuity of human presence at Atapuerca during the Early Middle Pleistocene: a matter of ecological competition?
Authors: Rodríguez-Gómez, Guillermo
Mateos Cachorro, Ana
Martín-González, Jesús Ángel
Blasco, Ruth
Rosell, Jordi
Rodríguez, Jesús
Keywords: Pleistocene epoch;Biomass (ecology);Carnivora;Europe;Predation;Death rates;Physiological parameters;Paleoecology
Issue Date: Jul-2014
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Citation: PLoS ONE, 2014, 9 (7): e101938
Abstract: Increasing evidence suggests that the European human settlement is older than 1.2 Ma. However, there is a fierce debate about the continuity or discontinuity of the early human settlement of Europe. In particular, evidence of human presence in the interval 0.7−0.5 Ma is scarce in comparison with evidence for the previous and later periods. Here, we present a case study in which the environmental conditions at Sierra de Atapuerca in the early Middle Pleistocene, a period without evidence of human presence, are compared with the conditions in the previous period, for which a relatively intense human occupation is documented. With this objective in mind, the available resources for a human population and the intensity of competition between secondary consumers during the two periods are compared using a mathematical model. The Gran Dolina site TD8 level, dated to 0.7−0.6 Ma, is taken as representative of the period during which Atapuerca was apparently not occupied by humans. Conditions at TD8 are compared with those of the previous period, represented by the TD6-2 level, which has yielded abundant evidence of intense human occupation. The results show that survival opportunities for a hypothetical human population were lower at TD8 than they were at TD6-2. Increased resource competition between secondary consumers arises as a possible explanation for the absence of human occupation at Atapuerca in the early Middle Pleistocene.
ISSN: 1932-6203
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0101938
Type: Article
Appears in Collections:Paleobiología

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