A Neanderthal trove in Madrid

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The Lozoya River Valley, in the Madrid mountain range of Guadarrama, could easily be called “Neanderthal Valley,” says the paleontologist Juan Luis Arsuaga.


“It is protected by two strings of mountains, it is rich in fauna, it is a privileged spot from an environmental viewpoint, and it is ideal for the Neanderthal, given that it provided the with good hunting grounds.”

This is not just a hypothesis: scientists working on site in Pinilla del Valle, near the reservoir, have already found nine Neanderthal teeth, remains of bonfires and thousands of animal fossils, including some from enormous aurochs (the ancestor of cattle, each the length of two bulls), rhinoceros and fallow deer.

The Neanderthal is a human species that is well known and unknown at the same time. It is well known because numerous vestiges have been found from the time when they lived in Europe, between 200,000 and 30,000 years ago. But it is also unknown because of the many unresolved issues that keep cropping up, including, first and foremost: why did they become extinct just as our current species made an appearance on the continent?

Nobody knows for sure whether the Neanderthal was able to talk, or whether they shared territory with Homo sapiens, or whether both species ignored each other until one – ours – proliferated while the other got lost forever… Scientists in charge of the sites at Pinilla del Valle could make significant contributions to finding the answers to these and other questions about the lives of the Neanderthal people.

“There are around 15 sites in Spain: in the Cantabrian mountain range, along the eastern Mediterranean coast and in Andalusia, but none on the plateau, where there are no limestone formations and no adequate caves to preserve human remains for thousands of years,” adds Arsuaga. But Pinilla del Valle is an exception to the rule. “There is limestone here. It was like a cap made of stone under which the Neanderthal presumably took refuge to prepare for the hunt, to craft their tools, to eat… It’s not that they lived inside in the sense of a home; they wandered in the fields, and this was probably more like a base camp to take refuge when they needed to.”

Written By: Alicia Rivera
continue to source article at elpais.com

9 COMMENTS

  1. From the OP

    The Lozoya River Valley……….could easily be called “Neanderthal Valley,”

    That’d just be plagirism, as the Neanderthal was named after the Neander Valley where it was first discovered.

  2. “including some from enormous aurochs (the ancestor of cattle, each the length of two bulls), “

    - Absolute TRIPE ! Across its temporal range, the aurochs was no larger than the range of extant bovines. If you consider the size it would be at “the length of two bulls”, taking into consideration the the other dimensions to keep it in proportion, it would be the size of an elephant !

  3. I’m sure many of you are aware that the Neanderthals’ had, on average; a slightly larger brain than hom. sap. You may also be aware that the brain size of hom. sap. has shrunk slightly over the last 20,000 years. Obviously brain size is not a sole determining factor of intelligence or “fitness” after all Einstein had a smaller than average brain and is generally accepted as being pretty smart. 
    Let me pose a light-hearted and maybe flippant thought:Given the power and success of the moronic tendency (Republicans, fundamentalists and other fanatics) perhaps it was the intellectual elite neanderthals who were wiped out by the aggressive hom.sap chavs? I mean history is full of such examples, you need look no further than the book burnings and general intellectual genocide of the early christians which ushered in the so called “Dark Ages”. Or look at the islamic world of today.

  4. I cannot believe the way a few of you  in this discussion are insulting Neanderthals by calling them Roman Catholics. Neaderthals were much smarter then that. You should apologize immediately!

  5. nurnord

    “including some from enormous aurochs (the ancestor of cattle, each the length of two bulls), “

    - Absolute TRIPE ! Across its temporal range, the aurochs was no larger than the range of extant bovines. If you consider the size it would be at “the length of two bulls”, taking into consideration the the other dimensions to keep it in proportion, it would be the size of an elephant !

    While “the length of two bulls” looks like an exaggeration,  and there was variation in geographical races of aurochs, some were indeed much larger than modern cattle.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A… - 
    Domesticated cattle and aurochs are so different in size that they have been regarded as separate species; however, large ancient cattle and aurochs “are difficult to classify because morphological traits have overlapping distributions in cattle and aurochs and diagnostic features are identified only in horn and some cranial element. 

    Comparison of aurochs bones with those of modern cattle has provided many insights about the aurochs. Remains of the beast, from specimens believed to have weighed more than a ton, have been found in Mesolithic sites around Goldcliff, Wales
     
    The aurochs was one of the biggest herbivores in the postglacial Europe, comparable to the wisent, the European bison.
    The size of an aurochs appeared to depend on the region: in Europe, northern populations were bigger on average than those from the south.
    For example, during the Holocene, aurochs from Denmark and Germany had an average height at the shoulders of 155–180 cm (61–71 in) in bulls and 135 to 155 cm in cows, 

    Some were comparable to the weights of the wisent or the banteng, reaching around 700 kg (1,500 lb), whereas those from the late-middle Pleistocene were estimated to measure up to 1,500 kg (3,300 lb), 

    Because of the massive horns, the frontal bones of aurochs were elongated and broad.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wi

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F

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