The TD6.3 faunal assemblage of the Gran Dolina site (Atapuerca, Spain): a late Early Pleistocene hyena den.

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    • Abstract:
      Ethological studies have shown that besides human groups, large-medium carnivores have bone-collecting habits. The research developed since the last half of the twentieth century has attempted to characterise the carnivore's accumulations and to identify them in the archaeo-paleontological record. At present, we have diagnostic criteria that define the accumulations produced by hyenids (mainly, Crocuta crocuta), thereby allowing us to differentiate them from the other accumulating agents. The faunal assemblage recovered at the Early Pleistocene TD6.3 layer of the Gran Dolina site is characterised by the presence of typical elements described in hyena dens: presence of small carnivores remains, high bone breakage, low epiphysis survival and a high frequency (>30%) of specimens with carnivore induced modifications, including large amounts of digested bones. However, attritional mortality profiles, hyena's cubs remains, mid-shaft bone cylinders or differential anatomical composition among different weight-sizes, have not been observed or are ambiguous. In addition, anthropic evidences are scarce and concentrated in the uppermost section of the layer. TD6.3 is the result of an accumulation produced by hyenas using the cave as a den, in alternation with sporadic occupations by hominin groups. TD6.3 shows that hyena fossil accumulations may present great anatomical and taxonomic variability. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
    • Abstract:
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