Palaeoecology of the Southern chamois from Valdegoba Cave (Burgos, Spain) and its exploitation by the Neanderthals

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The Southern chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica) is a small-sized bovid that currently inhabits the Cantabrian Mountain Range, the Pyrenees, and the Central Apennine Mountains. This species was exploited as a resource by Palaeolithic human groups of the northern region of the Iberian Peninsula, standing out in the record of the Cave of Valdegoba. The fossil record of this site has provided plenty of evidence of Neanderthal activity. According to taphonomic analyses, Neanderthals had primary access to prey and chamois was the most consumed species. Analysis of Valdegoba’s Southern chamois allows consideration of: (1), the age structure and the dynamics of the population; (2) the palaeobiological characteristics of this population (e.g. mortality rate by age intervals, growth rate or body mass); (3) comparison of the population dynamics of Valdegoba’s chamois with that of present-day populations of different species (R. rupicapra, R. pyrenaica); and (4) exploitation of the chamois by Neanderthals. We focussed on methodological aspects of population structure and mortality profiles using life tables with vital statistics, Leslie-Lewis matrices and ternary diagrams starting from tooth eruption and wear, whereas mass estimates were obtained from the postcranial bones. Cohort structures from e
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