Understanding the ancient habitats of the last-interglacial (late MIS 5) Neanderthals of central Iberia: Paleoenvironmental and taphonomic evidence from the Cueva del Camino (Spain) site

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The Cueva del Camino site (Pinilla del Valle, Madrid) represents the most complete MIS 5 record from the Iberian Peninsula (away from the Mediterranean margin), including a large accumulation of fossilized remains of small and large vertebrates and two human teeth. The presence of carnivores (mainly hyenas) and humans suggests that the site should be interpreted as a spotted hyena den, a human occupation, or both. During an earlier phase of excavation undertaken during the 1980s, an anthropic origin was suggested for the accumulation at the site. However, research was resumed in 2002, leading to an increase in the number of vertebrate remains recovered, as well as the recognition of new vertebrate species. These have now been incorporated into the site’s list of fauna. In addition, new palaeobotanical, geochronological and stratigraphic data have been recorded and analysed, and the human teeth identified as being of Neanderthal origin. Floristic data (pollen and charcoal remains) obtained for the north sector of this site indicate an open landscape with Pinus sylvestris-nigra as the main arboreal taxon. The available evidence suggests this accumulation to be the result of spotted hyena activity during a warm phase of Marine Isotope Stage 5 (MIS 5) in an environment in which fallow deer was the most abundant herbivore.
This is the author's version of the work. The definitive version was published in Quaternary international, nº 275, (2012/04/19),