Isotopic tracking of trophic relationships (predation, competition, commensalism) between paleolithic humans and predators
Predators are usually considered not so informative in zooarchaeological investigations, except when their bones carry cut-marks. They are more viewed as a disturbing factor for the bone assemblage. However, tracking their paleoecology using stable isotopes in their bones can yield valuable information on several key aspects of their relationships with paleolithic human populations. Especially carbon and nitrogen stable isotopic composition in bone collagen of predators compared to those of humans and the available prey species can be used to quantify proportions of consumed prey through Bayesian mixing models. This novel approach allows an evaluation of competition or niche partitioning between large predators such as wolves, cave lions and cave hyenas, and Neanderthal or modern humans between around 50,000 and 8,000 years ago. Moreover, the possibility to determine which predator had access to which prey can tell us about availability of large mammal carcasses, in the case of mesopredators unable to hunt large prey themselves, and possibly document cases of commensalism between small predators (e.g. fox, wolverine) and human settlements. Finally, stable isotopic investigations can provide a crucial contribution to the debate about domestication of wolf during pre-LGM Paleolithic in central Europe.
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Isotopic tracking of trophic relationships (predation, competition, commensalism) between paleolithic humans and predators. Hervé Bocherens, Dorothée Drucker, Martina Láznicková-Galetová, Mietje Germonpré, Christoph Wissing. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429930)
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min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;
Abstract Id(s): 14674