Carnivores and their prey in the Wezmeh Cave (Kermanshah, Iran): a Late Pleistocene refuge in the Zagros


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August 2008


Wezmeh Cave is located on the northeastern edge of the Islamabad plain, a high intermontane valley in the western‐central Zagros. In 1999 a disturbed but large faunal assemblage was recovered from this site. The abundant and extremely diverse faunal spectra present at Wezmeh Cave has highlighted the importance of this assemblage. Carnivore remains constitute the bulk of the assemblage; red fox (Vulpes vulpes) has the highest number of identified specimens followed by spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta), brown bear (Ursus arctos), wolf (Canis lupus), felids (lion, leopard, lynx/caracal and wildcat), mustelids (badger, polecat, marten) and viverrids (mongoose). Artiodactyls (bovid, cervid, suid), equids, rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sp.) and small animals (Cape hare, porcupine, tortoise, snake, birds) are also present. According to U‐series dating, the site was occupied from around 70 ka BP through to sub‐recent periods by carnivores. Amongst this rich assemblage, a human fossil tooth was also found and dated by non‐invasive spectrometry gamma dating to 20–25 ka BP. A preliminary zooarchaeological and taphonomic study shows that Wezmeh Cave was used by multiple carnivore species, a unique phenomenon in the Zagros Mountains in particular and southwest Asia in general. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


Spotted Hyena, Brown Bear, Carnivores, Human, U‐Series Dating, Late Pleistocene, Zagros, Iran

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