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Earliest Known Use of Marine Resources by Neanderthals

By Miguel Cortés-Sánchez, Arturo Morales-Muñiz, María D. Simón-Vallejo, María C. Lozano-Francisco, José L. Vera-Peláez, Clive Finlayson, Joaquín Rodríguez-Vidal, Antonio Delgado-Huertas, Francisco J. Jiménez-Espejo, Francisca Martínez-Ruiz, M. Aranzazu Martínez-Aguirre, Arturo J. Pascual-Granged, M. Mercè Bergadà-Zapata, Juan F. Gibaja-Bao, José A. Riquelme-Cantal, J. Antonio López-Sáez, Marta Rodrigo-Gámiz, Saburo Sakai, Saiko Sugisaki, Geraldine Finlayson, Darren A. Fa and Nuno F. Bicho


Numerous studies along the northern Mediterranean borderland have documented the use of shellfish by Neanderthals but none of these finds are prior to Marine Isotopic Stage 3 (MIS 3). In this paper we present evidence that gathering and consumption of mollusks can now be traced back to the lowest level of the archaeological sequence at Bajondillo Cave (Málaga, Spain), dated during the MIS 6. The paper describes the taxonomical and taphonomical features of the mollusk assemblages from this level Bj19 and briefly touches upon those retrieved in levels Bj18 (MIS 5) and Bj17 (MIS 4), evidencing a continuity of the shellfishing activity that reaches to MIS 3. This evidence is substantiated on 29 datings through radiocarbon, thermoluminescence and U series methods. Obtained dates and paleoenvironmental records from the cave include isotopic, pollen, lithostratigraphic and sedimentological analyses and they are fully coherent with paleoclimate conditions expected for the different stages. We conclude that described use of shellfish resources by Neanderthals (H. neanderthalensis) in Southern Spain started ∼150 ka and were almost contemporaneous to Pinnacle Point (South Africa), when shellfishing is first documented in archaic modern humans

Topics: Research Article
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