We present a detailed paleoecologic analysis of avian assemblages from the Mousterian layers of the Middle Paleolithic Grotta del Cavallo site in southern Italy. Findings improve knowledge of the landscape that was exploited by Neanderthals. During the MIS 7, 6 and 3, the cave was surrounded by extensive grasslands and shrublands, locally interspersed by open woodland and rocky outcrops, whereas the coastal plain (currently underwater) hosted wetlands. Water bird taxa show an increase in population size during the cool-temperate climatic interval attributed to MIS 3, possibly linked to more humid conditions or a shorter distance between the wetland settings and the cave, compared to the previous glacial phase (MIS 6). In addition, coverage-based rarefied richness suggests higher avian diversity during MIS 3, which may reflect greater landscape heterogeneity due to the presence of wetland habitats. The tentative discovery of Branta leucopsis, together with several bird species currently found at higher altitudes, reinforces geochemically-derived palaeoclimate inferences of cooler than the present conditions. These assemblages also include the first fossil occurrence of Larus genei worldwide, the first Italian occurrence of Emberiza calandra, the oldest Italian occurrence of Podiceps nigricollis, and the occurrence of the rarely reported Sylvia cf. communis. Taphonomic analyses indicate that bone modifications are mainly due to physical syn- and post-depositional processes, and that the assemblage mainly accumulated through short-range physical transport and the feeding activities of nocturnal raptors.

Mid-Late Pleistocene Neanderthal landscapes in southern Italy: Paleoecological contributions of the avian assemblage from Grotta del Cavallo, Apulia, southern Italy

Carrera L.
;
Scarponi D.
Secondo
;
2021

Abstract

We present a detailed paleoecologic analysis of avian assemblages from the Mousterian layers of the Middle Paleolithic Grotta del Cavallo site in southern Italy. Findings improve knowledge of the landscape that was exploited by Neanderthals. During the MIS 7, 6 and 3, the cave was surrounded by extensive grasslands and shrublands, locally interspersed by open woodland and rocky outcrops, whereas the coastal plain (currently underwater) hosted wetlands. Water bird taxa show an increase in population size during the cool-temperate climatic interval attributed to MIS 3, possibly linked to more humid conditions or a shorter distance between the wetland settings and the cave, compared to the previous glacial phase (MIS 6). In addition, coverage-based rarefied richness suggests higher avian diversity during MIS 3, which may reflect greater landscape heterogeneity due to the presence of wetland habitats. The tentative discovery of Branta leucopsis, together with several bird species currently found at higher altitudes, reinforces geochemically-derived palaeoclimate inferences of cooler than the present conditions. These assemblages also include the first fossil occurrence of Larus genei worldwide, the first Italian occurrence of Emberiza calandra, the oldest Italian occurrence of Podiceps nigricollis, and the occurrence of the rarely reported Sylvia cf. communis. Taphonomic analyses indicate that bone modifications are mainly due to physical syn- and post-depositional processes, and that the assemblage mainly accumulated through short-range physical transport and the feeding activities of nocturnal raptors.
Carrera L.; Scarponi D.; Martini F.; Sarti L.; Pavia M.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/845598
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