Hominids' last supper establishes the times they lived at archaeological sites

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Washington, July 15 (ANI): An international team of scientists has analyzed the last food that the hominids consumed, in order to establish the length of their occupations at archaeological sites.

As part of the research, the scientists analyzed the dental wear of the fossils of herbivorous animals found in the French cave of Arago, which were hunted by Homo heidelbergensis.

It is the first time that an analytical method has allowed the establishment of the length of human occupations at archaeological sites.

The key is the last food that these hominids consumed.

For many years, the mobility of the groups of hominids and how long they spent in caves or outdoors has been a subject of discussion among scientists.

Now, an international team headed by researchers from the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES) in Tarragona has based its studies on the dental fossils of animals hunted by hominids in order to determine the vegetation in the environment and the way of life of Homo heidelbergensis.

"For the first time, a method has been put forward which allows us to establish the relative length of the human occupations at archaeological sites as, up until now, it was difficult to ascertain the difference between, for example, a single long-term occupation and a succession of shorter seasonal occupations in the same place", said Florent Rivals, a researcher from ICREA.

In the study, the researchers analyze the dental wear of the ungulates (herbivorous mammals) caused by microscopic particles of opaline silica in plants.

These marks appear when eating takes place and erase the previous ones. This is why they are so useful.

Thanks to the "last supper phenomenon", the scientists have been able to analyze the last food consumed by animals such as the Eurasian wild horse, the mouflon and the reindeer. "This method allows us to confirm the seasonal nature of the occupation", Rivals added.

According to the team, the microwear of the teeth is sensitive to seasonal changes in the diet.

The application has allowed the researchers to estimate the length of the occupation of the site from the Lower Paleolithic Age in the cave of Arago (France) by the number of marks on the fossils and, therefore, the variation in the diet of several species of herbivores, as "each season presented food resources which were limited and different in the environment", the paleontologist clarified.

"With this method, we were able to prove that at the site, which belonged to Homo heidelbergensis, there is evidence of differing mobility, as there were highly mobile groups and others with little mobility", said Rivals. (ANI)

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