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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2022 / New insights into cave hyena ethology and the implications for territorial competition with hominins in Late Pleistocene north-west Europe: the case of Caverne Marie-Jeanne (Belgium)

Elodie-Laure Jimenez, Mietje Germonpré and Mathieu Boudin (2021)

New insights into cave hyena ethology and the implications for territorial competition with hominins in Late Pleistocene north-west Europe: the case of Caverne Marie-Jeanne (Belgium)

Journal of Quaternary Science:1-19.

Megacarnivore behaviours shape ecological dynamics between their prey and competitors and therefore play a key role in structuring ecosystems. In Late Pleistocene Eurasia, hominins and hyenas were sympatric predators. Since the first discoveries of Crocuta c. spelaea in the 19th century, this ‘bone-crushing’ species has been identified at most Palaeolithic sites and has inspired many taphonomic studies. Nonetheless, there is still very little known about its reproductive, social and spatial behaviours. We believe that exploring the complexity of the cave hyena's ethology is a way to better understand spatial relationships and niche sharing/partitioning between hominins and other top predators in Pleistocene ecosystems. This paper focuses on the study of Caverne Marie-Jeanne Layer 4 (Hastière, Belgium), one of the best-preserved palaeontological sites in the region. The exceptional number of hyena neonates in this assemblage (minimum number of individuals 300) has led us to describe, for the first time, a Late Pleistocene hyena birth den that was reused over a long period of time around 47.6–43k a bp. By bridging the gap between archaeology and palaeontology, we explore the potential of carnivore socio-spatial organisation and denning habits as an ecological proxy and discuss how these new unique data could help us further understand hominins’ spatial strategy in southern Belgium.

biogeography, Crocuta crocuta spelaea, Late Pleistocene, north-west Europe, palaeoethology
\_eprint: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/jqs.3404

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