Isotopic insights on ecological interactions between humans and woolly mammoths during the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic in Europe

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URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10900/114211
http://dx.doi.org/10.15496/publikation-55586
http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:bsz:21-dspace-1142113
Dokumentart: Buch (einzelnes Kapitel)
Date: 2021-04-14
Source: Tuebingen Paleoanthropology Book Series – Contributions in Paleoanthropology Band 1: Human-elephant interactions: from past to present
Language: English
Faculty: Tuebingen Paleoanthropology Book Series – Contributions in Paleoanthropology Band 1: Human-elephant interactions: from past to present
Other Keywords: mammoth
carbon isotope
nitrogen isotope
collagen
Middle Palaeolithic
Upper Palaeolithic
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Inhaltszusammenfassung:

Carbon and nitrogen isotopic composition of bone collagen in woolly mammoths, coeval her- bivores and predators, as well as hominins, allow researchers to quantify the proportion of meat consumed by late Neanderthals and early mod- ern humans in Europe. The proportions of con- sumed mammoth meat were found to be very high for late Neanderthals in sites from western France and Belgium between 45 and 40 ka, and for early modern humans from Belgium, Czech Republic, Crimea and western Russia, between 40 and 30 ka. A possible contribution of fresh- water resources was excluded in Belgium and Crimea using a novel approach based on single compound amino acid nitrogen isotopes and confirmed that mammoth consumption was the source of the high nitrogen isotopic ratio of ancient hominins in these sites. The impact of mammoth hunting on the Late Pleistocene eco- systems could be detected by a shift of isotopic values of horses onto those found for mammoth, suggesting that horses could use part of the eco- logical niche of mammoth probably due to a decrease of the proboscidean population. More- over, isotopic tracking of predator diet suggests that the mammoth carcasses left by humans were also exploited by scavengers, such as fox, wol- verine and brown bear. Therefore, stable isotopic tracking is a very useful approach to decipher the trophic interaction between hominins and mammoths and their possible ecological conse- quences.

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