The interaction between large mammals and Acheulean tools during the Middle Pleistocene in the Manzanares valley (Madrid, Spain): new evidence for Santa Elena and Oxígeno sites

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The fuvial deposits of the Manzanares and Jarama rivers present one of the largest concentrations of lithic and faunal remains of Pleistocene sites in Europe. In the Manzanares River close to the confuence of the Jarama River, the stepped terrace system disappears and gives way to the Complex Terrace of Butarque (CTB), where the sites of Santa Elena and Oxígeno are located. Diferent numerical dates obtained from the visible CTB’s bottom suggest that it was deposited during the MIS 6 or even MIS 7. This paper provides the frst taphonomic and palaeoecological interpretation of both collections. A total of 445 fossil elements have been recorded in Oxígeno. The most represented are cranial fragments of Elephas sp. About Santa Elena, 130 fossil elements have been recorded. The best represented are fragments of Bos/Bison sp. horns and Elephas sp. tusks. The taphonomic processes identifed at both sites bring to light a complex taphonomic history. The incidence of processes related to fuvial transport is higher in Oxígeno than in Santa Elena. Besides, dismemberment cut marks have been identifed exclusively on the humerus of Bos primigenius in Santa Elena. Several tooth marks from carnivores have been recorded: small pits and scores at Oxígeno as well as pits and furrowing on Bos primigenius and Megaloceros sp. bones from Santa Elena. The faunal association depict an open landscape of wet meadows with herbaceous vegetation adjacent to riparian wood habitats associated with the Manzanares alluvial plain, where hominids and predators competed to some unknown extent
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