4.7 Article

A symbolic Neanderthal accumulation of large herbivore crania


Volume 7, Issue 3, Pages 342-+


DOI: 10.1038/s41562-022-01503-7



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This study analyzes the behavior of Neanderthal groups at Cueva Des-Cubierta in central Spain based on archaeological findings. The presence of Mousterian lithic industry and an assemblage of large ungulate crania, along with evidence of processing outside the cave, suggests that the carcasses were brought inside for a second round of processing, possibly associated with brain removal. This recurrent behavior appears to be more symbolic than subsistence-related.
This work examines the possible behaviour of Neanderthal groups at the Cueva Des-Cubierta (central Spain) via the analysis of the latter's archaeological assemblage. Alongside evidence of Mousterian lithic industry, Level 3 of the cave infill was found to contain an assemblage of mammalian bone remains dominated by the crania of large ungulates, some associated with small hearths. The scarcity of post-cranial elements, teeth, mandibles and maxillae, along with evidence of anthropogenic modification of the crania (cut and percussion marks), indicates that the carcasses of the corresponding animals were initially processed outside the cave, and the crania were later brought inside. A second round of processing then took place, possibly related to the removal of the brain. The continued presence of crania throughout Level 3 indicates that this behaviour was recurrent during this level's formation. This behaviour seems to have no subsistence-related purpose but to be more symbolic in its intent.


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Correction Psychology, Biological

A symbolic Neanderthal accumulation of large herbivore crania (vol 7, pg 342, 2023)

Enrique Baquedano, Juan L. L. Arsuaga, Alfredo Perez-Gonzalez, Cesar Laplana, Belen Marquez, Rosa Huguet, Sandra Gomez-Soler, Lucia Villaescusa, M. Angeles Galindo-Pellicena, Laura Rodriguez, Rebeca Garcia-Gonzalez, M. -Cruz Ortega, David M. M. Martin-Perea, Ana I. I. Ortega, Lucia Hernandez-Vivanco, Gonzalo Ruiz-Liso, Juan Gomez-Hernanz, Jose I. Alonso-Martin, Ana Abrunhosa, Abel Moclan, Ana I. I. Casado, Marina Vegara-Riquelme, Ana Alvarez-Fernandez, Angel C. Dominguez-Garcia, Diego J. J. Alvarez-Lao, Nuria Garcia, Paloma Sevilla, Hugues-Alexandre Blain, Blanca Ruiz-Zapata, M. Jose Gil-Garcia, Adrian Alvarez-Vena, Teresa Sanz, Rolf Quam, Tom Higham


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Main morphological characteristics and sexual dimorphism of hominin adult femora from the Sima de los Huesos Middle Pleistocene site (Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain)

Jose-Miguel Carretero, Laura Rodriguez, Rebeca Garcia-Gonzalez, Juan-Luis Arsuaga

Summary: The study examines the fossil record from Sima de los Huesos and analyzes the morphology of European pre-Neandertal adult femur and its variation with different evolution patterns. It finds that the femora from Sima de los Huesos exhibit a primitive morphological pattern common to all non-Homo sapiens femora as well as most of the Neandertal traits, suggesting that the complete Upper Pleistocene Neandertal pattern was established in Middle Pleistocene ancestors. Additionally, the study highlights the shared morphological traits and proportions between the Sima de los Huesos and Neandertal femora and modern humans, which hold sexual significance regardless of size.


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