Did Neanderthals and Carnivores Compete for Animal Nutritional Resources in the Surroundings of the Cave of Zafarraya?
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This paper proposes a novel approach to study the interactions of Neanderthals and carnivores in the cave of Zafarraya by comparing the lithic archaeological and faunal records with a statistical path analysis, taking into consideration the ecology of the main carnivore predators and large herbivore prey foraging in the surroundings of the cave. The results of the analyses confirm and shed further light on previous taphonomic and zooarcheological research. The findings concur with the two-species LotkaVolterra competition model for resources which stipulates that when niche overlap is complete he species with the larger fitness excludes the other. Our analysis shows that in the immediate vicinity of the cave, the fitness of Panthera was greater than Neanderthals’, i.e when Panthera was present it excluded Neanderthals as evidenced by the record of Capra and Rupicapra remains. It also shows that further in the southern hills and the polje where large herbivores roamed, Neanderthals had a greater fitness than carnivores which translated into their primary accumulation in the cave of remains of Cervus elaphus and other large herbivores. Coexistence from occasional niche overlap is apparent when one or the other predator scavenged, but from a time prospective it must have been short periods linked to seasonality, weather conditions and occupation randomness. In Zafarraya, the archaeological record would indicate that the degree of fitness of the herbivore prey accumulators, carnivores or Neanderthals, was related to the nature of the geomorphological domains in the vicinity of the cave and the favored foraging areas of hunted herbivores.
Zafarraya, Neanderthals, Carnivores, Interactions, Herbivores, Capra Pyrenaica, Lithics, Path Analysis
Journal of Taphonomy, Vol. 10, no. 3,4 (2012).
Caparrós, Miguel, "Did Neanderthals and Carnivores Compete for Animal Nutritional Resources in the Surroundings of the Cave of Zafarraya?" (2012). KIP Articles. 1360.