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Christoph Wißing, Isabelle Crevecoeur, Mietje Germonpré, Johannes Krause, Yuichi Naito, Cosimo Posth, Hélène Rougier, Patrick Semal and Hervé Bocherens (2015)

Insight from stable isotopes into the ecology of late Neandertals

In: Hugo Obermaier Conference, pp. 76-77.

The "Troisième caverne" of Goyet yielded recently new human remains that belong to the latest Neandertals and earliest “MH in Northwestern Europe. Together with the late Neandertals from the nearby site of Spy and the coeval faunal remains from Scladina cave, this ”elgian bone material provides a unique opportunity to investigate the potential ecological and cultural differences among the last Neandertals and first “MH in North-western Europe. This study focuses on collagen isotopic results on human and animal bones. Collagen is the predominant protein in bone and its isotopic composition directly provides insights in ecological aspects such as diet, habitat, and landscape use patterns of both hominins as well as the herbivorous and carnivorous mammal species. Statistical treatment of the obtained isotopic raw data with statistical software R and JMP yielded quantitative estimates of the trophic relationships among the animal and human species.The isotopic analysis of several elements carbon, nitrogen allowed amongst other aspects to establish the ecological niche partitioning and the prey-predator relationships at Scladina, Spy and Goyet caves, all sites being relatively close to each other ±km and of similar age. These isotopic results show that the dietary strategies of Neandertals from Goyet are very similar to those of Spy, with a high dietary contribution of mega-herbivores. We compared these results with the ones obtained from the AMHs corresponding to the Aurignacian technocomplex from "Troisième caverne" of Goyet in Belgium. On the other hand the sulfur isotopic composition of collagen being linked to the characteristics of the bedrock, significant differences were found within and across the sites, which are interpreted as indicating dierent foraging areas for several mammal species including the Neandertals and “MH from Spy and Goyet.
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