Gibraltar, Gibraltar
Gibraltar, Gibraltar

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Huguet R.,Institute Catala Of Paleoecologia Humana I Evolucio Social Unit Associated To Csic | Huguet R.,Rovira i Virgili University | Saladie P.,Institute Catala Of Paleoecologia Humana I Evolucio Social Unit Associated To Csic | Saladie P.,Rovira i Virgili University | And 17 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2013

Subsistence strategies are a set of actions and measures chosen by hominins in a specific place and at a specific time to obtain the means necessary to survive and reproduce as individuals and as a group. Choosing successful actions and measures increases the group's means of survival, which in turn gives rise to an increase in population, thereby ensuring the continuity of the group. Some authors believe that Early Pleistocene hominin settlements were marginal and discontinuous due to their lack of social networks and cultural acquirements. However, the faunal remains recovered in the caves of Gran Dolina (levels 3-4 and 6) and Sima del Elefante (levels 9-14) in the Sierra de Atapuerca (Spain) show that the subsistence strategies of Early Pleistocene hominins in Europe were successful enough to allow hominin groups to survive and reproduce in sufficient numbers. Therefore, these first humans would have the ability to maintain a continuous occupation of Europe. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.


Fiorenza L.,University of New England of Australia | Benazzi S.,University of Bologna | Benazzi S.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | Henry A.G.,Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology | And 8 more authors.
American Journal of Physical Anthropology | Year: 2015

Neanderthals have been commonly depicted as top predators who met their nutritional needs by focusing entirely on meat. This information mostly derives from faunal assemblage analyses and stable isotope studies: methods that tend to underestimate plant consumption and overestimate the intake of animal proteins. Several studies in fact demonstrate that there is a physiological limit to the amount of animal proteins that can be consumed: exceeding these values causes protein toxicity that can be particularly dangerous to pregnant women and newborns. Consequently, to avoid food poisoning from meat-based diets, Neanderthals must have incorporated alternative food sources in their daily diets, including plant materials as well. © 2014 American Association of Physical Anthropologists.


Blain H.-A.,Institute Catala Of Paleoecologia Humana I Evolucio Social | Blain H.-A.,Rovira i Virgili University | Gleed-Owen C.P.,CGO Ecology Ltd | Lopez-Garcia J.M.,Institute Catala Of Paleoecologia Humana I Evolucio Social | And 7 more authors.
Journal of Human Evolution | Year: 2013

Gorham's Cave is located in the British territory of Gibraltar in the southernmost end of the Iberian Peninsula. Recent excavations, which began in 1997, have exposed an 18 m archaeological sequence that covered the last evidence of Neanderthal occupation and the first evidence of modern human occupation in the cave. By applying the Mutual Climatic Range method on the amphibian and reptile assemblages, we propose here new quantitative data on the terrestrial climatic conditions throughout the latest Pleistocene sequence of Gorham's Cave. In comparison with current climatic data, all mean annual temperatures were about 1.6-1.8 °C lower in this region. Winters were colder and summers were similar to today. Mean annual precipitation was slightly lower, but according to the Aridity Index of Gaussen there were only four dry months during the latest Pleistocene as opposed to five dry months today during the summer. The climate was Mediterranean and semi-arid (according to the Aridity Index of Dantin-Revenga) or semi-humid (according to the Aridity Index of Martonne). The atmospheric temperature range was higher during the latest Pleistocene, mainly due to lower winter temperatures. Such data support recent bioclimatic models, which indicate that high rainfall levels may have been a significant factor in the late survival of Neanderthal populations in southern Iberia. The Solutrean levels of Gorham's Cave and climate records from cores in the Alboran Sea indicate increasing aridity from Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 3-2. Because Neanderthals seem to have been associated with woodland habitats, we propose that lessening rainfall may have caused the degradation of large areas of forest and may have made late surviving Neanderthal populations more vulnerable outside southern refuges like the Rock of Gibraltar. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Blasco R.,Gibraltar Museum | Finlayson C.,Gibraltar Museum | Rosell J.,Rovira i Virgili University | Rosell J.,Institute Catala Of Paleoecologia Humana I Evolucio Social | And 6 more authors.
Scientific Reports | Year: 2014

Feral Pigeons have colonised all corners of the Earth, having developed a close association with humans and their activities. The wild ancestor of the Feral Pigeon, the Rock Dove, is a species of rocky habitats, nesting typically on cliff ledges and at the entrance to large caves. This habit would have brought them into close contact with cave-dwelling humans, a relationship usually linked to the development of dwellings in the Neolithic. We show that the association between humans and Rock Doves is an ancient one with its roots in the Palaeolithic and predates the arrival of modern humans into Europe. At Gorham's Cave, Gibraltar, the Neanderthals exploited Rock Doves for food for a period of over 40 thousand years, the earliest evidence dating to at least 67 thousand years ago. We show that the exploitation was not casual or sporadic, having found repeated evidence of the practice in different, widely spaced, temporal contexts within the cave. Our results point to hitherto unappreciated capacities of the Neanderthals to exploit birds as food resources on a regular basis. More so, they were practising it long before the arrival of modern humans and had therefore invented it independently.


Rodriguez-Vidal J.,University of Huelva | Finlayson G.,Gibraltar Museum | Finlayson C.,Gibraltar Museum | Finlayson C.,University of Toronto | And 4 more authors.
Geomorphology | Year: 2013

The Rock of Gibraltar, at the south-western extreme of the Iberian Peninsula and 21. km from the North African coast, is a 6-km long limestone peninsula which was inhabited by Neanderthals from MIS 5e until the end of MIS 3. A total of 8 sites, either with Neanderthal fossils or their Mousterian lithic technology, have been discovered on the Rock. Two, Gorham's and Vanguard Caves, are the subject of ongoing research. These caves are currently at sea level, but during MIS 3 faced an emerged coastal shelf with the shoreline as far as 5. km away at times. They hold a unique archive of fauna and flora, in the form of fossils, charcoal and pollen, helping environmental reconstruction of now-submerged shelf landscapes. In addition, geological and geomorphological features - a 300-metre dune complex, elevated aeolian deposits, raised beaches, scree, speleothems - complement the biotic picture.The work is further complemented by a study of the ecology of the species recorded at the site, using present-day observations. The species composition in this fossil record closely matches the present day fauna and vegetation of the Doñana National Park, SW Spain: a mosaic of pine groves, coastal dunes, shrubland and seasonal wetlands and currently the richest reserve in terms of biodiversity in the Iberian Peninsula, located only 100. km to the northwest from Gibraltar.All this information permits, for the first time, the quantification of the vegetation structure of the ancient coastal plain and the modelling of the spatio-temporal dynamics of the MIS 3 coastal shelf off Gibraltar. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.


Rodriguez-Vidal J.,University of Huelva | D'Errico F.,French National Center for Scientific Research | D'Errico F.,University of Bergen | Pacheco F.G.,Gibraltar Caves Project | And 15 more authors.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | Year: 2014

The production of purposely made painted or engraved designs on cave walls-a means of recording and transmitting symbolic codes in a durable manner-is recognized as a major cognitive step in human evolution. Considered exclusive to modern humans, this behavior has been used to argue in favor of significant cognitive differences between our direct ancestors and contemporary archaic hominins, including the Neanderthals. Here we present the first known example of an abstract pattern engraved by Neanderthals, from Gorham's Cave in Gibraltar. It consists of a deeply impressed cross-hatching carved into the bedrock of the cave that has remained covered by an undisturbed archaeological level containing Mousterian artifacts made by Neanderthals and is older than 39 cal kyr BP. Geochemical analysis of the epigenetic coating over the engravings and experimental replication show that the engraving was made before accumulation of the archaeological layers, and that most of the lines composing the design were made by repeatedly and carefully passing a pointed lithic tool into the grooves, excluding the possibility of an unintentional or utilitarian origin (e.g., food or fur processing). This discovery demonstrates the capacity of the Neanderthals for abstract thought and expression through the use of geometric forms.


Rodriguez-Vidal J.,University of Huelva | Caceres L.M.,University of Huelva | Abad M.,University of Huelva | Ruiz F.,University of Huelva | And 6 more authors.
Journal of Iberian Geology | Year: 2011

Evidence of the AD 1755 tsunami consisting of the same type of accretions produced by the re-deposition of earlier sediments, has been recorded at three different height along the coast of Gibraltar: Along a shallow sandy shore, the tsunami wave reached a run-up of 2-3 m, whereas along steep, cliff-lined shores (Rosia Bay) it surpassed 5 m. An overwash deposit was also identified at the bottom of a lagoon (The Inundation), at 0.5 m b.s.l., on the isthmus that joins the Rock with the mainland. Southern submerged platforms (Vladi's Reef) were also affected by the erosional backwash to a depth of 22 m. The tsunamigenic sediments exhibit a bimodal granulometry, mainly composed of sands with a coarser fraction composed of marine faunal shells remains, together with larger clasts derived from the rocky substrate. All remobilized sediments were dated by historical methods and radiocarbon dating.


Arilla M.,Rovira i Virgili University | Arilla M.,Institute Catala Of Palaeoecologia Humana I Evolucio Social | Rosell J.,Rovira i Virgili University | Rosell J.,Institute Catala Of Palaeoecologia Humana I Evolucio Social | And 5 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Neotaphonomic studies of large carnivores are used to create models in order to explain the formation of terrestrial vertebrate fossil faunas. The research reported here adds to the growing body of knowledge on the taphonomic consequences of large carnivore behavior in temperate habitats and has important implications for paleontology and archaeology. Using photo- and videotrap data, we were able to describe the consumption of 17 ungulate carcasses by wild brown bears (Ursus arctos arctos) ranging the Spanish Pyrenees. Further, we analyzed the taphonomic impact of these feeding bouts on the bones recovered from those carcasses. The general sequence of consumption that we charted starts with separation of a carcass's trunk; viscera are generally eaten first, followed by musculature of the humerus and femur. Long limb bones are not broken open for marrow extraction. Bears did not transport carcasses or carcass parts from points of feeding and did not disperse bones appreciably (if at all) from their anatomical positions. The general pattern of damage that resulted from bear feeding includes fracturing, peeling, crenulation, tooth pitting and scoring of axial and girdle elements and furrowing of the upper long limb bones. As predicted from observational data, the taphonomic consequences of bear feeding resemble those of other non-durophagus carnivores, such as felids, and are distinct from those of durophagus carnivores, such as hyenids. Our results have paleontological and archaeological relevance. Specifically, they may prove useful in building analogical models for interpreting the formation of fossil faunas for which bears are suspected bone accumulators and/or modifiers. More generally, our comparative statistical analyses draw precise quantitative distinctions between bone damage patterns imparted respectively by durophagus (modelled here primarily by spotted hyenas [Crocuta crocuta] and wolves [Canis lupus]) and non-durophagus (modelled here by brown bears and lions [Panthera leo]) carnivorans. © 2014 Arilla et al.


Lopez-Garcia J.M.,Rovira i Virgili University | Cuenca-Bescos G.,University of Zaragoza | Finlayson C.,The Gibraltar Museum | Finlayson C.,University of Toronto | And 2 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2011

Gorham's cave is located in the British territory of Gibraltar in the southernmost end of the Iberian Peninsula. The cave was discovered in 1907 and first excavated in the 1950s by John Waechter of the Institute of Archaeology in London. New excavations, which started in 1997, have exposed 18 m of human occupation in the cave, spanning the Late Pleistocene, as well as including brief Phoenician, Carthaginian and Neolithic occupations. The Late Pleistocene levels consist of two Upper Palaeolithic occupations, attributed to the Solutrean and Magdalenian technocomplexes (Level III), and which are dated, by AMS radiocarbon, to between 18,000 and 10,000 years ago. The underlying Mousterian layer (Level IV), dated by AMS radiocarbon to between 23,000 and 33,000 years ago, is separated from Level III by an archaeologically sterile layer, which spans some 4000 years.This paper presents previously unpublished palaeoenvironmental and paleoclimatic reconstructions of Gorham's cave, during these Pleistocene occupations, using the small mammal assemblage. The small mammal assemblage at Gorham's cave comprises of at least 12 species: 4 insectivores (Crocidura russula, Sorex gr. coronatus-araneus, Sorex minutus and Talpa occidentalis); 3 chiropters (Myotis myotis, Myotis nattereri and Miniopterus schreibersii); and 5 rodents (Microtus (Iberomys) cabrerae, Microtus (Terricola) duodecimcostatus, Arvicola sapidus, Apodemus sylvaticus and Eliomys quercinus). The presence of these small mammal species indicates that the landscape surrounding the Rock of Gibraltar was predominantly an open habitat, with the presence of woodland and water stream meadows, as well as the presence of larger bodies of water. These results are then compared with pollen and charcoal analysis as well as other faunal proxies, such as the herpetofauna, bird and large mammal assemblages, providing an accurate reconstruction of the climatic and environmental conditions that prevailed during the Late Pleistocene in the southernmost of the Iberian Peninsula. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.


Rodriguez-Gomez G.,National Research Center Sobre la Evolucion Humana | Mateos A.,National Research Center Sobre la Evolucion Humana | Martin-Gonzalez J.A.,University of Burgos | Blasco R.,Gibraltar Museum | And 3 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Increasing evidence suggests that the European human settlement is older than 1.2 Ma. However, there is a fierce debate about the continuity or discontinuity of the early human settlement of Europe. In particular, evidence of human presence in the interval 0.7-0.5 Ma is scarce in comparison with evidence for the previous and later periods. Here, we present a case study in which the environmental conditions at Sierra de Atapuerca in the early Middle Pleistocene, a period without evidence of human presence, are compared with the conditions in the previous period, for which a relatively intense human occupation is documented. With this objective in mind, the available resources for a human population and the intensity of competition between secondary consumers during the two periods are compared using a mathematical model. The Gran Dolina site TD8 level, dated to 0.7-0.6 Ma, is taken as representative of the period during which Atapuerca was apparently not occupied by humans. Conditions at TD8 are compared with those of the previous period, represented by the TD6-2 level, which has yielded abundant evidence of intense human occupation. The results show that survival opportunities for a hypothetical human population were lower at TD8 than they were at TD6-2. Increased resource competition between secondary consumers arises as a possible explanation for the absence of human occupation at Atapuerca in the early Middle Pleistocene. © 2014 Rodríguez-Gómez et al.

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