Squamates and amphibians from the Natufian cemetery of Raqefet Cave, Israel: taphonomy, paleoenvironments and paleoclimate

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We present the herpetofauna from Raqefet Cave, a Natufian (terminal Pleistocene) cemetery site in Mount Carmel, Israel. We provide a systematic description of the findings. By using intra-site comparisons of diversity and bone fragmentation, we identify possible agents of deposition and modification. To reconstruct the paleoenvironment, we conducted a habitat-weighting analysis and compared our results to the herpetofauna assemblages of a contemporaneous residential site in Mount Carmel, to modern herpetofauna sightings from Mount Carmel and to the micro-mammal assemblages of Raqefet Cave. Furthermore, we attempted to reconstruct the paleoclimate according to the modern presence of the identified herpetofauna species in different geographic zones in Israel with regard to their mean annual precipitation and temperature. Our analysis shows that all the Raqefet faunal assemblages originated from a mosaic of open and wooded Mediterranean habitats, similar to present-day Mount Carmel, albeit in slightly different proportions, which may be indicative of different depositional histories and possibly different accumulation agents. Paleoclimate reconstruction also indicates similarities to present-day Mount Carmel. Our analysis joins others in suggesting that the postulated climatic fluctuations of the latest Pleistocene did not have a considerable impact on the environments surrounding Raqefet Cave during the Natufian use of the site.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHistorical Biology
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Natufian
  • Raqefet Cave
  • habitat analysis
  • herpetofauna
  • paleoclimate reconstruction
  • paleoenvironmental reconstruction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (all)


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