Changing competition dynamics among predators at the late Early Pleistocene site Barranc de la Boella (Tarragona, Spain)
Antonio Pineda, Palmira Saladié, Rosa Huguet, Isabel Cáceres, Antonio Rosas, Almudena Estalrrichd, Antonio García-Tabernero, Josep Vallverdú
The late Early Pleistocene site Barranc de la Boella provides an unparalleled opportunity to assess the context of the activities of the hominin populations that inhabited the Iberian Peninsula at 1 Ma. Recently, strong evidence for access to mammoth meat has been described at the Pit 1 locality. At the la Mina and el Forn excavation areas, little evidence exists for the anthropogenic processing of macromammals. However, the presence of humans is recorded, and the available evidence suggests these populations had access to several interesting resources. By analysing and comparing five separate assemblages at Barranc de la Boella, we assess the fluctuating presence of hominins and carnivores and the levels of competition among predators in each assemblage. Our analysis reveals different levels of competition intensity during the formation of assemblages when hominin groups were present, as evidenced by the abundance and diversity of stone artefacts. The analyses of skeletal component ratios indicate several competitive contexts, and the greatest presence of hominin groups is associated with the most competitive scenarios. The palaeoenvironment at Barranc de la Boella was rich in resources that hominins could exploit. The presence of hominin and carnivore groups appears to have been higher in levels with more inferred competition. This scenario supports prior research that concludes that carnivore abundance and highly competitive contexts were two constants in the lives of these hominin groups. Thus, the criteria determining whether hominins could inhabit a given landscape were most likely related to the presence or absence of resources, such as animal resources, water and raw materials, rather than the dynamics of the carnivore populations, to which the hominins were able to become habituated.
Keywords: Palaeoecology; Taphonomy; La Mina; El Forn; Lower Palaeolithic
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