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Title: Modeling trophic resource availability for the first human settlers of Europe: the case of Atapuerca TD6
Authors: Rodríguez-Gómez, Guillermo
Rodríguez, Jesús
Martín-González, Jesús Ángel
Goikoetxea, Idoia
Mateos Cachorro, Ana
Keywords: Palaeolithic;Hunter-gatherers;Mathematical models;Homo antecessor
Issue Date: Jun-2013
Publisher: Elsevier
Citation: Journal of Human Evolution, 2013, 64 (6), 645-657
Abstract: Food resource availability strongly influences the survival opportunities of all organisms. The effect of animal food resource availability on the survival and dispersal of hominin populations is hotly debated. In this article, we present a mathematical model that provides estimations of the maximum and minimum available resources for secondary consumers in a palaeocommunity. This model provides insights into the intensity of competition and the available niche space for hominins in Europe during the early Galerian (1.2–0.8 Ma). Published data from the Atapuerca TD6 assemblage were used in combination with the model to investigate trophic dynamics and resource availability for a Homo antecessor population 800,000 years ago. The effect on our results of the possible presence at Atapuerca of some large carnivores not recorded in the fossil assemblage is also evaluated. Results indicate the existence of a rich ecosystem at Atapuerca at the end of the Early Pleistocene. Secondary production was abundant enough to maintain a hunter–gatherer population and a rich carnivore guild more diverse than that recorded in the TD6 assemblage. Based on these results, the practice of cannibalism by H. antecessor cannot be explained by a long-term scarcity of resources. High food availability at TD6 implies a low to moderate level of competition for resources between carnivores and humans. According to this interpretation, an empty niche for a highly carnivorous omnivore existed in Europe during the early Galerian, and it was successfully exploited by Homo.
ISSN: 0047-2484
DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2013.02.007
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Type: Article
Appears in Collections:Paleobiología

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