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Changing environments during the Middle-Upper Palaeolithic transition in the eastern Cantabrian Region (Spain): direct evidence from stable isotope studies on ungulate bones

Jones, JR; Richards, MP; Straus, LG; Reade, H; Altuna, J; Mariezkurrena, K; Marin-Arroyo, AB; (2018) Changing environments during the Middle-Upper Palaeolithic transition in the eastern Cantabrian Region (Spain): direct evidence from stable isotope studies on ungulate bones. Scientific Reports , 8 , Article 14842. 10.1038/s41598-018-32493-0. Green open access

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Abstract

Environmental change has been proposed as a factor that contributed to the extinction of the Neanderthals in Europe during MIS3. Currently, the different local environmental conditions experienced at the time when Anatomically Modern Humans (AMH) met Neanderthals are not well known. In the Western Pyrenees, particularly, in the eastern end of the Cantabrian coast of the Iberian Peninsula, extensive evidence of Neanderthal and subsequent AMH activity exists, making it an ideal area in which to explore the palaeoenvironments experienced and resources exploited by both human species during the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition. Red deer and horse were analysed using bone collagen stable isotope analysis to reconstruct environmental conditions across the transition. A shift in the ecological niche of horses after the Mousterian demonstrates a change in environment, towards more open vegetation, linked to wider climatic change. In the Mousterian, Aurignacian and Gravettian, high inter-individual nitrogen ranges were observed in both herbivores. This could indicate that these individuals were procured from areas isotopically different in nitrogen. Differences in sulphur values between sites suggest some variability in the hunting locations exploited, reflecting the human use of different parts of the landscape. An alternative and complementary explanation proposed is that there were climatic fluctuations within the time of formation of these archaeological levels, as observed in pollen, marine and ice cores.

Type: Article
Title: Changing environments during the Middle-Upper Palaeolithic transition in the eastern Cantabrian Region (Spain): direct evidence from stable isotope studies on ungulate bones
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-32493-0
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-32493-0
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10060939
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