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Taphonomy and actualistic studies of carnivores: applications to understanding Sima de los Huesos (Atapuerca) and other Pleistocene sites in Spain.

Author(s): Nohemi Sala ; Juan Luis Arsuaga

Year: 2015

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Summary

The study of carnivore activity on bones is crucial to understand the role of the carnivores in the site formation since some carnivores are able to accumulate bones in cave dens. The studies of the Professor Haynes reveal that actualism is a very useful tool for taphonomic studies, as it allows understanding the behavior of the fauna in the past. In Spain there are several Pleistocene sites with evidences of carnivore activity. The Sima de los Huesos (SH) is site is the largest accumulation of human remains from the Middle Pleistocene. Studies in the last two decades have proposed different hypotheses to explain the origin of the SH hominin accumulation, being the carnivores one of them. We have approached the taphonomic study of SH through actualistic research with living carnivores (ursids, canids, and large felids).

The comparison of bone modification patterns at SH to actualistic data allows us to suggest that bears were likely to have been the carnivore responsible for the modification observed on human fossils but we discard the carnivores as the accumulation agents.

The research developed by G. Haynes was decisive in this study since it was the framework of our actualistic experiments.

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Taphonomy and actualistic studies of carnivores: applications to understanding Sima de los Huesos (Atapuerca) and other Pleistocene sites in Spain.. Nohemi Sala, Juan Luis Arsuaga. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 394945)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
Europe


Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America