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Falgueres C.,French Natural History Museum | Bahain J.-J.,French Natural History Museum | Grun R.,Australian National University | Shao Q.,French Natural History Museum | And 7 more authors.
Journal of Quaternary Science | Year: 2011

The palaeontological site of Venta Micena (Orce, Andalusia, Spain) lies in the eastern sector of the Guadix-Baza basin, one of the best documented areas in Europe for Plio-Pleistocene biostratigraphy. The combination of biochronological and palaeomagnetic results, combined with the radiometric data obtained for Atapuerca Sima del Elefante, indicated that the Venta Micena stratum was formed between the Jaramillo and Olduvai palaeomagnetic events, most likely between 1.22 and 1.77 Ma. Five fossil teeth from two outcrops (sites A and B) were selected to assess the potential of combined uranium series-electron spin resonance (US-ESR) dating of Early Pleistocene sites. Although the US-ESR results of the first outcrop showed a large scatter between the three teeth, the mean age of 1.37±0.24 Ma can be considered a reasonable age estimate for Venta Micena. The mean ESR age of 0.62±0.03 Ma obtained for site B seems to be a severe underestimation when compared with the independent age control. This underestimation is attributed to a relative recent U-mobilization event that led to some U-leaching. The results show that any ESR age calculations of old samples are extremely sensitive to variations in the measured 230Th/234U ratios in dental tissues. Although the results demonstrate that ESR can in principle be applied to Early Pleistocene sites, they also reveal the complexity of dating such old teeth. It is necessary to continue research in several directions, such as study of the behaviour of ESR signals in old teeth and understanding recent U-mobilization processes, to improve the reliability of the combined US-ESR dating method applied to Early Pleistocene times, a period for which the number of available numerical dating techniques is very limited. © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


Barsky D.,Center Europeen Of Recherches Prehistoriques Of Tautavel | Celiberti V.,Center Europeen Of Recherches Prehistoriques Of Tautavel | Cauche D.,Laboratoire Departemental Of Prehistoire Du Lazaret | Gregoire S.,Center Europeen Of Recherches Prehistoriques Of Tautavel | And 3 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2010

Lithics from Barranco León and Fuente Nueva 3 in Orce, Spain (respectively 1.3 and 1.2. Ma according to paleomagnetic and biochronological criteria) provide information about the oldest known European Mode 1 assemblages. At these sites, both located in what were swampy areas close to the eastern shores of the Baza paleo-lake, evidence points towards competition between hominins and hyenas to access large herbivore carcasses abandoned by other carnivores. To make their tools, hominins collected rocks available nearby such as limestone and flint. Distinctive groupings of rock type with typo-technological elements are clear: flint was largely exploited for flake production whereas limestone was reserved for percussion instruments and worked cobbles. These Spanish sites do not comprise true configured tools. Knapping strategies were adapted to raw material constraints and initial block form; the hard hammer on an anvil technique was frequently used to reduce small, cube-shaped flint matrixes and some larger limestone pieces. Technical systems were mainly unidirectional recurrent, although polyhedron shaped multiplatform cores were also produced by hard hammer technique. While evidence from the Near East attests to the presence of Mode 2 producing populations as early as 1.4. Ma, such assemblages do not appear in Europe until around 0.7. Ma. Given data from the Orce assemblages, how might the earliest hominin occupations of Europe be interpreted?. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.


Moyano I.T.,Museo Arqueologico y Etnologico de Granada | Barsky D.,Rovira i Virgili University | Cauche D.,Laboratoire Departemental Of Prehistoire Du Lazaret | Celiberti V.,Center Europeen Of Recherches Prehistoriques Of Tautavel | And 4 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2011

The Barranco León and Fuente Nueva 3 sites are located in the Guadix-Baza Basin in Orce (Andalusia, Spain) about 80 km from the Mediterranean Sea. The sites were accumulated in swampy areas near the paleo-lake Baza's eastern shoreline. There, hominins and hyenas competed for access to large herbivore carcasses abandoned by carnivores. The ages of the Barranco León and Fuente Nueva 3 sites have been evaluated from large and small mammal biochronology, magnetostratigraphy and also by ESR to around 1.4-1.2 Ma, respectively. Both sites have yielded fauna and lithic artefacts in situ. Systematic excavations at Barranco León and Fuente Nueva 3 have been underway since the 1990's and contribute to growing evidence of hominin presence in southern Europe well before 1 Ma.The two lithic assemblages show strong similarities. At both sites, the artefacts were knapped from tabular flint and limestone pebbles collected nearby. The assemblages are composed mainly of small, non modified flakes and angular fragments, as well as some cores. Larger limestone heavy duty tools and cores are also present. There are no standardized small or large tools. Stone knapping was carried out using hand held and bipolar-on-an-anvil reduction strategies in accordance with raw material constraints and probably also desired product morphology. The assemblages are characterized by widespread use of unidirectional knapping methods. Reduction strategies were progressively adapted as the cores evolved into different forms. The Barranco León and Fuente Nueva 3 stone tool assemblages express a variant of Oldowan or Mode 1 technology that may be considered to be more complex than that observed at some earlier African sites, mainly because of the systematic use of extended orthogonal knapping episodes producing multiplatform cores and the differential use of two types of raw materials for making small cutting tools and larger percussion instruments. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.


Alvarez C.,CENIEH | Pares J.M.,CENIEH | Granger D.,Purdue University | Duval M.,CENIEH | And 2 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2015

Sediments of the Plio-Pleistocene Guadix - Baza basin have provided a wealth of information on the first hominin populations in Western Europe. To better constrain the age of the Fuente Nueva-3 archaeological site within the basin, and to complement previous magnetostratigraphic studies, two vertical boreholes were taken that provide a continuous record of the lower part of the sequence. Results indicate that the sequence is dominated by negative inclinations, but some additional intervals with positive inclination are also identified in the lower part of the sequence. A new cosmogenic nuclide burial age of 1.50 ± 0.31 Ma helps constrain the magnetostratigraphic record. The abundance of normal polarity directions at the bottom of a borehole may indicate proximity to the Olduvai Subchron; however, further analyses are required to confirm this hypothesis. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.


Alvarez C.,Geochronology Program | Pares J.M.,Geochronology Program | Granger D.,Purdue University | Duval M.,Geochronology Program | And 2 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2015

Sediments of the Plio-Pleistocene Guadix - Baza basin have provided a wealth of information on the first hominin populations in Western Europe. To better constrain the age of the Fuente Nueva-3 archaeological site within the basin, and to complement previous magnetostratigraphic studies, two vertical boreholes were taken that provide a continuous record of the lower part of the sequence. Results indicate that the sequence is dominated by negative inclinations, but some additional intervals with positive inclination are also identified in the lower part of the sequence. A new cosmogenic nuclide burial age of 1.50±0.31Ma helps constrain the magnetostratigraphic record. The abundance of normal polarity directions at the bottom of a borehole may indicate proximity to the Olduvai Subchron; however, further analyses are required to confirm this hypothesis. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.


Blain H.-A.,Rovira i Virgili University | Bailon S.,French Natural History Museum | Agusti J.,Rovira i Virgili University | Martinez-Navarro B.,Rovira i Virgili University | Toro I.,Museo Arqueologico y Etnologico de Granada
Quaternary International | Year: 2011

Because most amphibians are water dependent and most reptiles are temperature dependent, the climatic and/or environmental parameters in their immediate environment mark their distribution. Accordingly, they can contribute to an understanding of microhabitats and microclimates within a larger landscape, such as the Guadix-Baza Basin in south-eastern Spain. The Early Pleistocene archaeological and paleontological sites of Barranco León D and Fuente Nueva 3, which are localized in both space and time in the Guadix-Baza Basin, have together yielded a diversified accumulation of herpetofauna that comprises at least 20 taxa of amphibians, chelonians, lizards and snakes. With the exception of the bufonid Bufo sp. (viridis group) and the anguid lizard Dopasia, these two assemblages do not specifically differ from the extant herpetofauna of the Iberian Peninsula, making them suitable for use in paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental reconstructions without the ecological uncertainties of extinct taxa. In this paper, mutual climatic range and habitat weighting methods are applied to amphibian and reptile assemblages in order to estimate quantitative data. The results indicate that during the late Early Pleistocene mean annual temperature and mean annual precipitation were higher than they are now on the south-eastern Iberian Peninsula. The contrast between summer and winter temperatures (i.e. continentality) was less pronounced, mainly due to warmer conditions during winter. Rainfall distribution indicates a considerable increase in precipitation in every season but summer, which was drier and consistent with the Mediterranean climate pattern. The terrestrial landscape was composed of open environments (mainly dry meadows, rocky-stony areas and Mediterranean scrubland), although there were some wet wooded areas. Water-linked amphibians and reptiles suggest the existence of a sunny permanent aquatic environment with banks made up of a movable ground. These results are compared with those for large mammals, small mammals and pollen analyses, yielding a scenario for the paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental conditions that were in place during the Early Pleistocene in the Guadix-Baza Basin. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.


Madurell-Malapeira J.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Martinez-Navarro B.,Rovira i Virgili University | Ros-Montoya S.,Museo de Prehistoria y Paleontologia | Patrocinio Espigares M.,Museo de Prehistoria y Paleontologia | And 2 more authors.
Comptes Rendus - Palevol | Year: 2011

Paleontological and molecular data suggest that the divergence of the European and Asian badgers (Meles meles and Meles leucurus, respectively) from their ancestor Meles thorali might have taken place in the Middle to Late Villafranchian boundary (ca. 1.8. Ma). However, the available record of Late Villafrachian European badgers is scanty and poorly known, and this hypothesis needs more paleontological data in order to be tested. The badger hemimandible from the Iberian locality of Fuente Nueva 3, a locality placed in the beginning of the Late Villafranchian, supports the idea of an early divergence between European and Asian badgers. © 2011.

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