Middle Pleistocene ecology and Neanderthal subsistence: insights from stable isotope analyses in Payre (Ardèche, southeastern France).

Abstract:

:The Middle Palaeolithic site of Payre in southeastern France yields abundant archaeological material associated with fossil hominid remains. With its long sequence of Middle Pleistocene deposits, Payre is a key site to study the Middle Palaeolithic chronology of this region. This study is the first to investigate carbon and oxygen isotope contents of Neanderthal tooth enamel bioapatite, together with a wide range of herbivorous and carnivorous species. The aim is to contribute to the understanding of hunting behaviour, resource partitioning, diet and habitat use of animals and Neanderthals through a palaeoecological reconstruction. Local topography had a visible influence on carbon and oxygen stable isotope values recorded in herbivore tooth enamel. This was used to investigate possible habitats of herbivores. The different herbivorous species do not show large variations of their carbon and oxygen isotope values through time, indicating niche conservatism from OIS 8-7 to OIS 6-5, i.e., independently of palaeoclimatic and palaeoenvironmental variations. Based on these new observations, we conclude that Neanderthals employed a stable subsistence strategy over time, using a variety of local resources, with resource partitioning visible between humans and carnivores, especially wolves. A comparison of the results of stable isotopic investigation with the results of tooth wear analyses previously conducted on the same teeth allowed us to demonstrate that grazing and browsing do not bind animals to a specific habitat in a C3 environment as reflected in the isotopic values.

journal_name

J Hum Evol

authors

Ecker M,Bocherens H,Julien MA,Rivals F,Raynal JP,Moncel MH

doi

10.1016/j.jhevol.2013.06.013

subject

Has Abstract

pub_date

2013-10-01 00:00:00

pages

363-73

issue

4

eissn

0047-2484

issn

1095-8606

pii

S0047-2484(13)00159-0

journal_volume

65

pub_type

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