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Carnivores and Cave Sites in Cantabrian Spain

Lawrence Guy Straus
Journal of Anthropological Research
Vol. 38, No. 1 (Spring, 1982), pp. 75-96
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3629949
Page Count: 22
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Carnivores and Cave Sites in Cantabrian Spain
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Abstract

This paper tests the common assumption that faunal remains found in Paleolithic cave sites in northern Spain were the result of hominid hunting. Using the carnivore/ungulate ratio devised by R. G. Klein, a large number of Middle and Upper Paleolithic faunal assemblages are compared. Carnivore remains and species are extremely abundant in certain caves and in levels particularly pertaining to the Mousterian and early Upper Paleolithic, suggesting heavy canid, felid, and/or hyenid involvement in the accumulation of carcasses. In most late Upper Paleolithic levels, however, where cultural debris is much denser, carnivore remains are generally very scarce or absent, indicating the preponderant role of humans in carcass accumulation in caves. A number of caves in northern Burgos Province illustrate the opposite extreme. Besides serving as a cautionary tale, this article has implications for the evolutionary history of hominid hunting behavior in south-western Europe.

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