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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Sep 24;116(39):19409-19414. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1901789116. Epub 2019 Sep 9.

The composition of a Neandertal social group revealed by the hominin footprints at Le Rozel (Normandy, France).

Author information

1
UMR 7194 Histoire Naturelle de l'Homme Préhistorique, CNRS, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Université Perpignan Via Domitia, 75013 Paris, France; jeremy.duveau@edu.mnhn.fr dominique.cliquet@culture.gouv.fr.
2
UMR 7194 Histoire Naturelle de l'Homme Préhistorique, CNRS, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Université Perpignan Via Domitia, 75013 Paris, France.
3
Projet Collectif de Recherche, Les Premiers Hommes en Normandie, Ministère de la Culture, 14052 Caen Cedex 4, France.
4
Projet Collectif de Recherche, Les Premiers Hommes en Normandie, Ministère de la Culture, 14052 Caen Cedex 4, France; jeremy.duveau@edu.mnhn.fr dominique.cliquet@culture.gouv.fr.
5
Service Régional de l'Archéologie, Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles Normandie, Ministère de la Culture, 14052 Caen Cedex 4, France.
6
UMR 6566 Centre de Recherche en Archéologie, Archéosciences, Histoire, CNRS, Université de Rennes 1, 35042 Rennes, France.

Abstract

Footprints represent a unique snapshot of hominin life. They provide information on the size and composition of groups that differs from osteological and archeological remains, whose contemporaneity is difficult to establish. We report here on the discovery of 257 footprints dated to 80,000 y from the Paleolithic site at Le Rozel (Normandy, France), which represent the largest known Neandertal ichnological assemblage to date. We investigate the size and composition of a track-maker group from this large set by developing a morphometric method based on experimental footprints. Our analyses indicate that the footprints were made by a small group comprising different age classes, from early childhood to adult, with a majority of children. The Le Rozel footprints thus provide direct evidence for the size and composition of a Neandertal social group.

KEYWORDS:

Le Rozel; Neandertals; footprints; group composition; morphometry

PMID:
31501334
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1901789116

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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