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Birds of a feather : neanderthal exploitation of raptors and corvids
Finlayson, Clive (University of Toronto. Department of Social Sciences)
Brown, Kimberly (The Gibraltar Museum)
Blasco, Ruth (Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social)
Rosell, Jordi (Universitat Rovira i Virgili. Àrea de Prehistòria)
Negro, Juan José (Estación Biológica de Doñana (CSIC))
Bortolotti, Gary R. (University of Saskatchewan. Department of Biology)
Finlayson, Geraldine (The Gibraltar Museum)
Sánchez Marco, Antonio (Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont)
Giles Pacheco, Francisco (The Gibraltar Museum)
Rodríguez Vidal, Joaquín (Universidad de Huelva. Departamento de Geodinámica y Paleontología)
Carrión, José S. (Universidad de Murcia. Departamento de Biología Vegetal)
Fa, Darren A. (The Gibraltar Museum)
Rodríguez Llanes, José M. (Université Catholique de Louvain. Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters Institute Health and Society)

Date: 2012
Abstract: The hypothesis that Neanderthals exploited birds for the use of their feathers or claws as personal ornaments in symbolic behaviour is revolutionary as it assigns unprecedented cognitive abilities to these hominins. This inference, however, is based on modest faunal samples and thus may not represent a regular or systematic behaviour. Here we address this issue by looking for evidence of such behaviour across a large temporal and geographical framework. Our analyses try to answer four main questions: 1) does a Neanderthal to raptor-corvid connection exist at a large scale, thus avoiding associations that might be regarded as local in space or time?; 2) did Middle (associated with Neanderthals) and Upper Palaeolithic (associated with modern humans) sites contain a greater range of these species than Late Pleistocene paleontological sites?; 3) is there a taphonomic association between Neanderthals and corvids-raptors at Middle Palaeolithic sites on Gibraltar, specifically Gorham’s, Vanguard and Ibex Caves? and; 4) was the extraction of wing feathers a local phenomenon exclusive to the Neanderthals at these sites or was it a geographically wider phenomenon?. We compiled a database of 1699 Pleistocene Palearctic sites based on fossil bird sites. We also compiled a taphonomical database from the Middle Palaeolithic assemblages of Gibraltar. We establish a clear, previously unknown and widespread, association between Neanderthals, raptors and corvids. We show that the association involved the direct intervention of Neanderthals on the bones of these birds, which we interpret as evidence of extraction of large flight feathers. The large number of bones, the variety of species processed and the different temporal periods when the behaviour is observed, indicate that this was a systematic, geographically and temporally broad, activity that the Neanderthals undertook. Our results, providing clear evidence that Neanderthal cognitive capacities were comparable to those of Modern Humans, constitute a major advance in the study of human evolution.
Note: Número d'acord de subvenció AGAUR/2009/SGR-188
Note: Número d'acord de subvenció MICINN/CGL2009-12703-C03-02
Note: Número d'acord de subvenció MICINN/CGL2011-28681
Rights: Aquest document està subjecte a una llicència d'ús Creative Commons. Es permet la reproducció total o parcial, la distribució, la comunicació pública de l'obra i la creació d'obres derivades, fins i tot amb finalitats comercials, sempre i quan es reconegui l'autoria de l'obra original. Creative Commons
Language: Anglès.
Document: article ; recerca ; publishedVersion
Published in: Plos One, Vol. 7, Issue 9 (September 2012) , art. e45927, ISSN 1932-6203

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0045927
PMID: 23029321


9 p, 427.9 KB

The record appears in these collections:
Research literature > UAB research groups literature > Research Centres and Groups (scientific output) > Experimental sciences > Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP)
Articles > Research articles
Articles > Published articles

 Record created 2018-07-24, last modified 2019-07-18



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