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J Hum Evol. 2005 Jul;49(1):71-87.

Isotopic evidence for diet and subsistence pattern of the Saint-Césaire I Neanderthal: review and use of a multi-source mixing model.

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  • 1Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution, UMR 5554, Université Montpellier 2, Place E. Bataillon, F-34095 Montpellier cedex 05, France. bocheren@isem.univ-montp2.fr

Abstract

The carbon and nitrogen isotopic abundances of the collagen extracted from the Saint-Césaire I Neanderthal have been used to infer the dietary behaviour of this specimen. A review of previously published Neanderthal collagen isotopic signatures with the addition of 3 new collagen isotopic signatures from specimens from Les Pradelles allows us to compare the dietary habits of 5 Neanderthal specimens from OIS 3 and one specimen from OIS 5c. This comparison points to a trophic position as top predator in an open environment, with little variation through time and space. In addition, a comparison of the Saint-Césaire I Neanderthal with contemporaneous hyaenas has been performed using a multi-source mixing model, modified from Phillips and Gregg (2003, Oecologia 127, 171). It appears that the isotopic differences between the Neanderthal specimen and hyaenas can be accounted for by much lower amounts of reindeer and much higher amounts of woolly rhinoceros and woolly mammoth in the dietary input of the Neanderthal specimen than in that of hyaenas, with relatively similar contributions of bovinae, large deer and horse for both predators, a conclusion consistent with the zooarchaeological data. The high proportion of very large herbivores, such as woolly rhinoceros and woolly mammoth, in Neanderthal's diet compare to that of the scavenging hyaenas suggests that Neanderthals could not acquire these prey through scavenging. They probably had to hunt for proboscideans and rhinoceros. Such a prey selection could result from a long lasting dietary tradition in Europe.

PMID:
15869783
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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