Herbivore enamel carbon and oxygen isotopes demonstrate both Homo sapiens and Neanderthals exploited similar habitats in the Zagros Mountains

Michaela Ecker, Nemat Hariri, Saman Heydari-Guran, Elham Ghasidian, Noreen Tuross, Melinda Zeder, Cheryl A. Makarewicz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The extinction of Neanderthal populations has been attributed to the onset of cold and dry climatic conditions during Marine Isotope Stage 3 or their competition with anatomically modern humans for large game resources. However, decoupling climate from competition has long proved difficult. Loess sequences and pollen cores provide regional-scale environmental information but are less well-suited to providing local-scale habitat information contemporaneous with hominin habitation of occupation sites. The relationship between climate and resource availability is particularly unknown in the Zagros mountain range where archaeological evidence for both Neanderthals and Homo sapiens occupation is documented. Here, we analyse carbon (δ13C) and oxygen (δ18O) stable isotopes measured from herbivore tooth enamel carbonates recovered from the Neanderthal and modern human occupation sites of Bawa Yawan Rockshelter and Shanidar Cave to trace local-scale floral biome dynamics and climate conditions that influence the distribution and availability of large prey targeted by both hominin species. Shared isotopic composition of herbivorous fauna, largely represented by wild goats, from both sites spanning Neanderthal and Homo sapiens occupation indicate both hominin species exploited similar habitats during climatically similar phases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1279-1288
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
Volume38
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors Journal of Quaternary Science Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Keywords

  • Middle Palaeolithic
  • Neanderthals
  • palaeoenvironment
  • stable isotope analysis
  • Zagros mountains

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Paleontology

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