Ancient sapiens from Fumane cave skinned wolves and foxes for fur

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(ORDO NEWS) — Archaeologists and paleozoologists have studied materials from the early pore of the Upper Paleolithic from the Italian Fumane cave.

They specified the time when the Uluzzo industry and the proto-Aurignacian technocomplex appeared at this site, and also studied numerous animal bones.

About 42-37.7 thousand years ago, the ancient sapiens from Fumane mainly hunted ungulates, such as ibex and chamois. Judging by the incisions, they sometimes caught wolves and foxes in order to skin them for fur.

If we do not take into account the 210,000-year-old skull from Greece, then the first people of the modern anatomical type (Homo sapiens) came to Europe about 54 thousand years ago.

This is indicated by finds made in the French grotto Mandren, where a sapiens tooth was found in a layer with Nero industry.

Subsequent analysis of the artifacts showed that the oldest arrowheads on the continent are also located here.

At the same time, other Nero stone tools are known only from a few long-excavated sites that are located in the Rhone River basin. For this reason, very little is known about this wave of migration.

The next wave of immigrants, apparently, came to Europe about 45 thousand years ago, evidence of which is, for example, in the Bulgarian cave of Bacho-Kiro.

Soon, modern humans displaced or assimilated the Neanderthals, who finally disappeared about 40,000 years ago.

One of the monuments associated with this transitional time is Fumane Cave, which is located in northern Italy.

Archaeologists who have been working on this site since 1988 have discovered cultural layers here that are associated with both Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons.

Ancient sapiens from Fumane cave skinned wolves and foxes for fur 2
Location of Fumane cave and other Upper Paleolithic sites. Red triangles indicate Proto-Aurignacian sites, green triangles indicate Early Aurignacian, yellow triangles indicate Proto-Aurignacian and Early Aurignacian, blue triangles indicate sites with industries of the early stage of the Upper Paleolithic

Ana Marin-Arroyo of the University of Cantabria, together with colleagues from Spain and Italy, continued to explore the materials excavated in the Fumane cave, focusing on animal remains from the layers of the early pores of the Upper Paleolithic.

To begin with, the scientists obtained new radiocarbon dates, which they processed using Bayesian modeling. This allowed them to date the deposits with the Uluzzo industry between 44,500 and 41,100 years ago.

The Proto-Aurignacian technocomplex of this site belongs to 42,000–39,250 years ago, and the late Proto-Aurignacian technocomplex, to 40,000–37,750 years ago.

The researchers then analyzed 12,907 animal bones from the Proto-Aurignacian layers. The vast majority of these finds (90.6 percent) are indeterminate remains.

The main prey of ancient people was alpine ibex (Capra ibex), chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra), followed by red deer (Cervus elaphus) and European roe deer (Capreolus capreolus). Sometimes big-horned deer (Megaloceros giganteus), aurochs or steppe bison (Bos primigenius / Bison priscus) became prey.

In addition to herbivores, the Cro-Magnons from Fumane Cave hunted carnivores, among which gray wolves (Canis lupis) and common foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are best represented in the collection of finds.

On many bones, the researchers found traces of butchering and heat treatment.

Moreover, there are incisions on the remains of foxes and wolves, which indicate that the animals were skinned for the sake of fur. There are also traces of tools on bird bones.

Scientists noted that among the finds were 12 bone tools that were used as retouchers in the processing of stone products. More than half of the bones of ungulates belonged to adults.

However, some of the remains belonged to the young. This prompted researchers to think that sometimes ancient people hunted herds of females along with their cubs in late spring or summer.

Moreover, judging by the bones of ibexes, the whole prey was brought to the parking lot, and not butchered at the scene of the murder.


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