Study sheds light on alterations by carnivores to Paleolithic campsites

Related Articles

Related Articles

Ruth Blasco, Taphonomy researcher at the Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH), has participated in a paper published in the journal Scientific Reports which demonstrates the considerable alteration and anatomical bias produced by wild carnivores once places inhabited by Paleolithic hominins have been abandoned.

There exist many processes and agents which may act during the formation of archaeological sites, but hominins and carnivores are the accumulating biological agents par excellence and those on which most studies have focused over recent decades. This is partly because the evidence they leave behind is often very similar, as both predators interfere with animal carcasses for the same nutritional purpose and they usually occupy the same habitable spaces (caves or rock-shelters), in alternation and almost immediately.

On occasions, this phenomenon gives rise to a mixture of overprinted episodes which hampers or complicates archaeological interpretations to different extents. “This is why experimental studies like the one we have conducted provide keys to determining the activity of carnivores at human campsites, both at the level of bone modification and anatomical bias, and in relation to spatial disruption, in other words, the dispersion of remains”, explains Blasco.

 

Neo-taphonomy

The investigation described in this paper adds to previous work carried out by the same research team, who propose that performing actualistic studies based on observation and experimentation is a fundamental tool for characterizing and modeling the predation conducts of wild carnivores.

This experimental line of Neo-taphonomy with free-ranging wild carnivores was started in 2010 and centered at several points of the Pre-Pyrenees and Pyrenees, such as in the Parc Natural de l’Alt del Pirineu, in Lleida, where it was possible to make observations in a setting without any type of human conditioning that could have altered these animals´ behavior, and therefore their patterns of conduct.

“This scenario is vital when it comes to extrapolating experimental data, as any alteration to the animals’ conduct could bring about a different taphonomic footprint, and therefore lead to inappropriate archaeological interpretations”, adds Blasco.

The experimental work was carried out with the permission, supervision and collaboration of the brown bear tracking teams (Bear Patrol), the Parc Natural de l’Alt Pirineu, and the Departament d’Agricultura, Ramaderia, Pesca i Alimentació of the Generalitat de Cataluña. Finally, the experimental line itself is part of the research project “Neanderthals and carnivores: a shared history” (Ref. CLT009/18/00055), co-financed by the Generalitat de Cataluña.

CENIEH

Header Image – Public Domain

Download the HeritageDaily mobile application on iOS and Android

More on this topic

LATEST NEWS

Giant Sand Worm Discovery Proves Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

Simon Fraser University researchers have found evidence that large ambush-predatory worms--some as long as two metres--roamed the ocean floor near Taiwan over 20 million years ago.

Burial Practices Point to an Interconnected Early Medieval Europe

Early Medieval Europe is frequently viewed as a time of cultural stagnation, often given the misnomer of the 'Dark Ages'. However, analysis has revealed new ideas could spread rapidly as communities were interconnected, creating a surprisingly unified culture in Europe.

New Starfish-Like Fossil Reveals Evolution in Action

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have discovered a fossil of the earliest starfish-like animal, which helps us understand the origins of the nimble-armed creature.

Mars Crater Offers Window on Temperatures 3.5 Billion Years Ago

Once upon a time, seasons in Gale Crater probably felt something like those in Iceland. But nobody was there to bundle up more than 3 billion years ago.

Early Humans Used Chopping Tools to Break Animal Bones & Consume the Bone Marrow

Researchers from the Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University unraveled the function of flint tools known as 'chopping tools', found at the prehistoric site of Revadim, east of Ashdod.

50 Million-Year-Old Fossil Assassin Bug Has Unusually Well-Preserved Genitalia

The fossilized insect is tiny and its genital capsule, called a pygophore, is roughly the length of a grain of rice.

Dinosaur-Era Sea Lizard Had Teeth Like a Shark

New study identifies a bizarre new species suggesting that giant marine lizards thrived before the asteroid wiped them out 66 million years ago.

The Iron Age Tribes of Britain

The British Iron Age is a conventional name to describe the independent Iron Age cultures that inhabited the mainland and smaller islands of present-day Britain.

Popular stories

The Iron Age Tribes of Britain

The British Iron Age is a conventional name to describe the independent Iron Age cultures that inhabited the mainland and smaller islands of present-day Britain.

The Roman Conquest of Wales

The conquest of Wales began in either AD 47 or 48, following the landing of Roman forces in Britannia sent by Emperor Claudius in AD 43.

Vallum Antonini – The Antonine Wall

The Antonine Wall (Vallum Antonini) was a defensive wall built by the Romans in present-day Scotland, that ran for 39 miles between the Firth of Forth, and the Firth of Clyde (west of Edinburgh along the central belt).

Vallum Aulium – Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s Wall (Vallum Aulium) was a defensive fortification in Roman Britannia that ran 73 miles (116km) from Mais at the Solway Firth on the Irish Sea to the banks of the River Tyne at Segedunum at Wallsend in the North Sea.