Climate variability in early expansions of Homo sapiens in light of the new record of micromammals in Misliya Cave, Israel

Lior Weissbrod, Mina Weinstein-Evron

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    In this study, we provide the first taphonomic and taxonomic descriptions of the micromammals from Misliya Cave, where recently a Homo sapiens hemimaxilla has been reported. This finding significantly extends the time frame for the out-of-Africa presence of anatomically modern humans. It also provides an opportunity to reassess variation in early modern human population responses to climate change in the Levantine sequence. Information on species ranking and diversity estimations (Shannon functions) is obtained from quantitative data across 31 Levantine assemblages and investigated in a broad comparative frame using multivariate analyses. Recent models of human-climate interactions in the late Early–Middle Paleolithic of the southern Levant have drawn heavily on on-site associations of human fossils with remains of micromammals. However, there has been little, if any, attempt to examine the long-term picture of how paleocommunities of micromammals responded qualitatively and quantitatively to climatic oscillations of the region by altering their compositional complexity. Consequently, our understanding is vastly limited in regard to the paleoecosystem functions that linked past precipitation shifts to changes in primary producers and consumers or as to the background climatic conditions that allowed for the development of highly nonanalog ancient communities in the region. Although previous studies argued for a correspondence between alternations in H. sapiens and Neanderthal occupations of the Levant and faunal shifts in key biostratigraphic indicator taxa (such as Euro-Siberian Ellobius versus Saharo-Arabian Mastomys and Arvicanthis), our data indicate the likelihood that early H. sapiens populations (Misliya and Qafzeh hominins) persisted through high amplitudes of paleoecological and climatic oscillations. It is unlikely, given these results, that climate functioned as a significant filter of early modern human persistence and genetic interactions with Neanderthals in the Levant.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number102741
    JournalJournal of Human Evolution
    Volume139
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Feb 2020

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    Misliya Cave is located in the Mount Carmel Nature Reserve, managed by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. The Misliya Cave project is supported by the Dan David Foundation, the Leakey Foundation, the Irene Levi-Sala CARE archaeological foundation, Faculty of Humanities of the University of Haifa, and the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 1104/12). Thanks are also due to the regional council of Hof-HaCarmel and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority for their assistance. Special thanks are due to the late Dan David and his son, Ariel David, for their inspiration and financial support of the Misliya Cave excavation project. Israel Antiquities Authority permit numbers for the Misliya Cave excavations: G-16/2001, G-39/2002, G-14/2003, G-29/2004, G-12/2005, G-12/2006, G-4/2007, G-54/2008, G-52/2009, G-50/2010. This article appears as part of a special issue of the Journal of Human Evolution, following a University of Haifa workshop (November, 2017): ?The Lower to Middle Paleolithic Boundary: A view from the Near East,? funded by grants from the Israel Science Foundation (ISF 341/17), the Dan David Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation (Gr. CONF-753), the Zinman Institute of Arcaheology at the University of Haifa, Faculty of Humanities at the University of Haifa, Hof-HaCarmel regional council, and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. We kindly thank the National Natural History Collections of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the curator of its paleontological and zooarchaeological material, Dr. Rivka Rabinovich, for providing access to their collections and research facilities. We also thank Mira Bar-Matthews for kindly providing us access to the Soreq Cave stable isotope data set.

    Funding Information:
    Misliya Cave is located in the Mount Carmel Nature Reserve, managed by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. The Misliya Cave project is supported by the Dan David Foundation , the Leakey Foundation , the Irene Levi-Sala CARE archaeological foundation , Faculty of Humanities of the University of Haifa , and the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 1104/12 ). Thanks are also due to the regional council of Hof-HaCarmel and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority for their assistance. Special thanks are due to the late Dan David and his son, Ariel David, for their inspiration and financial support of the Misliya Cave excavation project. Israel Antiquities Authority permit numbers for the Misliya Cave excavations: G-16/2001, G-39/2002, G-14/2003, G-29/2004, G-12/2005, G-12/2006, G-4/2007, G-54/2008, G-52/2009, G-50/2010. This article appears as part of a special issue of the Journal of Human Evolution, following a University of Haifa workshop (November, 2017): ‘The Lower to Middle Paleolithic Boundary: A view from the Near East,’ funded by grants from the Israel Science Foundation ( ISF 341/17 ), the Dan David Foundation , the Wenner-Gren Foundation (Gr. CONF-753 ), the Zinman Institute of Arcaheology at the University of Haifa , Faculty of Humanities at the University of Haifa, Hof-HaCarmel regional council, and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. We kindly thank the National Natural History Collections of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the curator of its paleontological and zooarchaeological material, Dr. Rivka Rabinovich, for providing access to their collections and research facilities. We also thank Mira Bar-Matthews for kindly providing us access to the Soreq Cave stable isotope data set.

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2020 Elsevier Ltd

    Keywords

    • Climate change
    • Levant
    • Micromammals
    • Misliya Cave
    • Modern humans

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
    • Anthropology

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