New illustrations showcase Neandertals’ warm-weather way of life

Right here’s a scene assured to soften the favored stereotype of Ice Age Neandertals as spear-wielding mammoth hunters confined to Eurasia’s frigid interior core.

New illustrations present what’s at the moment identified in regards to the setting inhabited periodically by Neandertals in Iberia, or what’s now Spain and Portugal, from at the very least 350,000 years in the past to almost 100,000 years in the past. Paleoartist Gabriela Amorós Vendor of the College of Murcia in Spain, used coloured pencils for instance an idyllic view of a Neandertal man and baby lounging on flat floor downslope from Bolomor Cave, close to the Mediterranean coast of what’s now jap Spain.

Excavations within the cave have produced proof of the timber, vegetation and animals proven within the drawing, offered within the March 15 Quaternary Science Opinions. Amorós Vendor additionally illustrated Bolomor Cave’s Neandertal-era entrance and surrounding greenery. She and her colleagues regard these scientifically knowledgeable drawings as greater than merely interesting to the attention. Artwork that reveals the essential make-up of an historical setting can encourage scientists to ask new questions. As an illustration, her group now needs to discover how historical Iberian vegetation grew within the wild and what they seemed like earlier than being modified over the previous few thousand years by farming practices.  

Japanese Spain’s Bolomor Cave (illustrated) has hosted latest excavations that paint an in depth image of what life was like for Neandertals who as soon as inhabited that temperate area.G. Amorós, Quat. Sci. Opinions, 2021

Bolomor Cave Neandertals most likely ate fruit, nuts and seeds of vegetation that when grew within the space, says coauthor José Carrión, an evolutionary biologist and botanist on the College of Murcia. These vegetation included hazel shrubs, one in all which seems simply behind the Neandertal male, who’s munching on a hazelnut. Strawberry timber, Mediterranean hackberry, myrtle shrubs, carob timber and chestnut timber — all proven within the drawings — had been additionally accessible, he says.

Insights about native vegetation throughout Neandertal occasions come largely from pollen grains and spores present in sediment layers in Bolomor Cave, beforehand reported by coauthor Juan Ochando, an evolutionary botanist additionally on the College of Murcia, and colleagues. These layers have additionally yielded stays of fireside pits, burned animal bones, scorched tortoise shells and 4 Neandertal fossils — a chunk of a leg bone, two tooth and a part of a braincase.

The animal stays inform different components of the drawings, such because the Neandertal baby watching a tortoise inch its method ahead. Tortoises had been cooked and eaten at Bolomor Cave, together with frequent prey corresponding to hares, rabbits, birds and deer. Individuals additionally often consumed massive animals corresponding to horses and hippos.

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Neandertals probably responded to comparatively gentle Iberian temperatures by sporting few or no garments, the researchers suspect.

Whether or not they had been a separate Homo species or an historical variant of Homo sapiens, Neandertals had a largely unappreciated expertise for locating and exploiting resource-rich components of Iberia (SN: 3/26/20). Amorós Vendor’s work vividly present a few of that mammoth-free bounty.

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