4.4 Article

Understanding the ancient habitats of the last-interglacial (late MIS 5) Neanderthals of central Iberia: Paleoenvironmental and taphonomic evidence from the Cueva del Camino (Spain) site


Volume 275, Issue -, Pages 55-75


DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2012.04.019




  1. Comunidad de Madrid, Ministerio de Cultura, grupo Mahou, Canal de Isabel II
  2. Ministerio de Educacion (FPU) [AP2006-04737, AP2009-4096]
  3. Fundacion Atapuerca
  4. Junta de Castilla y Leon Project [BU005A09]
  5. Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovacion [CGL2009-12703-C03-03]
  6. Community of Madrid [S2010/BMD-2330]

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The Cueva del Camino site (Pinilla del Valle, Madrid) represents the most complete MIS 5 record from the Iberian Peninsula (away from the Mediterranean margin), including a large accumulation of fossilized remains of small and large vertebrates and two human teeth. The presence of carnivores (mainly hyenas) and humans suggests that the site should be interpreted as a spotted hyena den, a human occupation, or both. During an earlier phase of excavation undertaken during the 1980s, an anthropic origin was suggested for the accumulation at the site. However, research was resumed in 2002, leading to an increase in the number of vertebrate remains recovered, as well as the recognition of new vertebrate species. These have now been incorporated into the site's list of fauna. In addition, new palaeobotanical, geochronological and stratigraphic data have been recorded and analysed, and the human teeth identified as being of Neanderthal origin. Floristic data (pollen and charcoal remains) obtained for the north sector of this site indicate an open landscape with Pin us sylvestris-nigra as the main arboreal taxon. The available evidence suggests this accumulation to be the result of spotted hyena activity during a warm phase of Marine Isotope Stage 5 (MIS 5) in an environment in which fallow deer was the most abundant herbivore. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.


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