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Magniez P.,Center Europeen Of Recherches Prehistoriques | Magniez P.,French Natural History Museum | Boulbes N.,Center Europeen Of Recherches Prehistoriques | Boulbes N.,Montpellier University
Quaternary International | Year: 2014

Late Pleistocene deposits of Tournal Cave, southwestern France, provided several human occupations attributed to Mousterian, Aurignacian, and Magdalenian cultures. Some human remains (Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens) were identified in each unit. This study presents a detailed temporal reconstruction of habitats surrounding the cave, using various proxies based on rich large mammal assemblages and related to biological activities. The levels correlated to MIS 3 and MIS 2 are characterized by alternating carnivore, Neanderthal, and Anatomically Modern Human (AMH) occupations. Faunal exploitation was mainly oriented towards Equus caballus and Rangifer tarandus, with a significant increase in the latter prey from the last Aurignacian level onwards. The results exhibit geographic and temporal variations of reindeer and horse body size. Reindeer can be used as a suitable ecological marker, as rapid changes are correlated to environmental turnover, whereas the horse presents a different pattern and is an accurate chronological estimator. The palaeoecological results indicate a major climate change between the two Aurignacian levels. The Mousterian and the first Aurignacian levels, documenting the Middle to Late Palaeolithic transition, show high indices of specific richness and diversity of large mammals in relation with a periglacial moderate cold and wet climate. The region developed a mixed landscape and displayed a non-analogue fauna with E. caballus, R. tarandus, Cervus elaphus, Megaloceros giganteus, Bison priscus, Bos primigenius, Capra caucasica praepyrenaica, Sus scrofa and Coelodonta antiquitatis for the ungulates and Ursus spelaeus, Ursus arctos, Crocuta crocuta spelaea, Panthera leo spelaea, Panthera pardus, Lynx spelaeus, Canis lupus and Vulpes vulpes for the carnivores. The breakdown occurring in the last Aurignacian level is characterized by a change in ecological settings, with a colder and drier climate and opening of the landscape, involving shifts in seasonality, plant phenology, reindeer body size and animal population densities. This impacted habitat fragmentation and geographic distribution of populations, implying various selective pressures that were reflected in human meat procurement and dispersal events. At Tournal Cave, the late Middle/early Late Palaeolithic transition is not directly marked by significant differences in terms of faunal exploitation, due to local climate and site function, but the major environmental shift recorded is delayed. The results indicate that abrupt climate oscillations during MIS 3 contributed to the decline of Neanderthal populations, notably because of habitat fragmentation. AMHs could have generated additional stresses. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.

Lebatard A.-E.,Aix - Marseille University | Alcicek M.C.,Pamukkale University | Rochette P.,Aix - Marseille University | Khatib S.,French National Center for Scientific Research | And 9 more authors.
Earth and Planetary Science Letters | Year: 2014

Since its discovery within a travertine quarry, the fragmentary cranium of the only known Turkish Homo erectus, the Kocabaş hominid, has led to conflicting biochronological estimations. First estimated to be ~500ka old, the partial skull presents a combination of archaic and evolved features that puts it as an intermediate specimen between the Dmanisi fossils (Homo georgicus) and the Chinese Zhoukoudian skulls (Homo erectus) respectively dated to 1.8 to ~0.8Ma. Here we present a multidisciplinary study combining sedimentological, paleontological and paleoanthropological observations together with cosmogenic nuclide concentration and paleomagnetic measurements to provide an absolute chronological framework for the Upper fossiliferous Travertine unit where the Kocabaş hominid and fauna were discovered. The 26Al/10Be burial ages determined on pebbles from conglomeratic levels framing the Upper fossiliferous Travertine unit, which exhibits an inverse polarity, constrains its deposition to before the Cobb Mountain sub-chron, that is between 1.22 and ~1.5Ma. The alternative match of the normal polarity recorded above the travertine with the Jaramillo subchron (lower limit 1.07 Ma) may also be marginally compatible with cosmogenic nuclides interpretation, thus the proposed minimum age of 1.1 Ma for the end of massive travertine deposition. The actual age of the fossils is likely to be in the 1.1-1.3 Ma range. This absolute date is in close agreement with the paleoanthropological conclusions based on morphometric comparisons implying that Kocabaş hominid belongs to the Homo erectus s.l. group that includes Chinese and African fossils, and is different from Middle and Upper Pleistocene specimens. Furthermore, this date is confirmed by the large mammal assemblage, typical of the late Villafranchian. Because it attests to the antiquity of human occupation of the Anatolian Peninsula and one of the waves of settlements out of Africa, this work challenges the current knowledge of the Homo erectus dispersal over Eurasia. © 2014 The Authors.

Chapon C.,Center Europeen Of Recherches Prehistoriques | Bahain J.-J.,French Natural History Museum | Beyene Y.,C.R.C.C.H. | Bilcot J.-B.,French Atomic Energy Commission | And 4 more authors.
Comptes Rendus - Palevol | Year: 2011

The FJ-1 Tuff and three additional isolated outcrops of volcanic tuffs listed in the Fejej area (South Omo, Ethiopia) are associated with a single volcanic event and correspond to the same ash deposit subsequently truncated by erosion. Data from new chemical analyses given by X-ray fluorescence allow correlation of these tuffs with the Borana Tuff of the Koobi Fora Formation, which is itself correlated with a tuff in the Upper G member or with the H-1 tuff of the Shungura formation. The geochronological assessment of this tephra is in agreement with previous magnetostratigraphical and biostratigraphical studies, attributing the Fejej FJ-1 Tuff to between 1.95 to 1.90. Ma. © 2011 Académie des sciences.

Moncel M.-H.,French Natural History Museum | Puaud S.,French Natural History Museum | Daujeard C.,French Natural History Museum | Lateur N.,French National Center for Scientific Research | And 5 more authors.
Comptes Rendus - Palevol | Year: 2014

New investigations conducted in 2008 at Ranc-Pointu No. 2, a small cave located along the Ardèche River, led to the complete revision of the infilling and assemblages, confirming at least one human occupation in this small cave. There may have been two periods of occupation, but only the main one located at the top of the sequence (level 'c') has been firmly established. Revision of the large mammal corpus and sedimentological data suggests climatic warming from the base to the top of the sequence. The OSL dating of sub-level 'c1' to 145 ka must be discussed in relation to the interdisciplinary results. It suggests that this cave was occupied at the end of MIS 6 and therefore that human populations were present in the Ardèche gorges at the end of the Middle Pleistocene. Ranc-Pointu No. 2 would thus represent older Middle Palaeolithic occupations than in other caves located along the Ardèche River, such as Le Figuier or Saint-Marcel. In the Ardèche French department, only the bottom of the Moula-Guercy sequence and the top of the sequence at the site of Payre, both of which are northern sites, have recorded MIS 6 deposits. © 2013 Académie des sciences.

Fernandez P.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Boulbes N.,Montpellier University | Boulbes N.,Center Europeen Of Recherches Prehistoriques
Revue de Paleobiologie | Year: 2010

A demographic analysis of Equus achenheimensis corresponding to biozones MNQ 23 and 24 was carried out on the site of Romain-la-Roche starting from the abundant dental material of this Equid. The methodological aspects developed here are currently used in population dynamic studies and are applied in this particular swallow-hole palaeobiological context. In this study we first present material and methods which allow us to establish age-structure of horses in Romain-la-Roche. We then focus on a new demographic approach which combines life tables and projection matrix of Leslie. This allows us in the last part to characterize the status of the horse population of Romainla-Roche. Our results clearly show decreasing, unbalanced and unstable age-structure. The different demographic parameters and the matrix model projection also state that the various cohorts of horses from Romain-la-Roche could not have constituted a viable and perennial population in time. The constitution of the fossil deposit is difficult to understand, nevertheless bone material does not show any anthropic or animal trace. We thus do not retain the assumption of an accumulation related to Man or Carnivores predatory activity.

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