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Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 10, Issue 8, pp 1867–1880 | Cite as

Taxonomic reassignment of the Paleolithic human navicular from Cueva de los Torrejones (Guadalajara, Spain)

  • Adrián Pablos
  • Nohemi Sala
  • Alfonso Arribas
Original Paper

Abstract

Evidence of human activity and hominin remains are very scarce inland on the Iberian Peninsula. This fact raises the issue of the scarcity of evidence that Paleolithic Homo sapiens occupied this area outside of the littoral margins (Atlantic, Cantabrian, and Mediterranean coasts). Here, we comparatively describe a human right adult navicular bone recovered in the Cueva de los Torrejones site, located in the village of Tamajón (Guadalajara, Spain). This fossil was preliminarily established as belonging to Homo cf. neanderthalensis, due to the late Pleistocene faunal association, mainly because of the presence of Crocuta crocuta and Panthera pardus. The metrical and morphological study of the navicular T93-S3.27 from Cueva de los Torrejones clearly differentiates it from Neandertals and their ancestors, the hominins from Sima de los Huesos, allowing for this fossil to be taxonomically assigned with confidence as H. sapiens. The navicular from the Cueva de los Torrejones is absolutely and relatively medio-laterally narrow with a low wedging index as those of fossil and modern H. sapiens, and clearly different of Neandertals. The increased discoveries and publications of new naviculars belonging to genus Homo, together with the findings of P. pardus and C. crocuta in more recent chronologies in the Iberian Peninsula, are compatible with this reevaluation. We propose a probable chronology for this fossil between 12 and 15 ka and ca. 25 ka, based on the biostratigraphy and the oldest presence of H. sapiens in the Iberian Peninsula. This work confirms the human presence within the Iberian Peninsula during the Upper Paleolithic and reopens the question of the peopling of the inner Peninsula during this period.

Keywords

Feet Navicular Neandertals Upper Paleolithic modern humans Late Pleistocene Iberian Peninsula 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We really would like to acknowledge the Instituto Geológico y Minero de España (IGME) and its personnel, especially to S. Menéndez, for allowing access to the fossil under their care. The effort put forth and work carried out by the excavation team during the 1993–1995 seasons in the Cueva de los Torrejones is very much appreciated.

The availability of the huge comparative collection, both modern and fossil, would not have been possible without the help and collaboration of multiple institutions and people that allowed access to important collections under their care and kindly provided assistance: Y. Haile-Selassie and L. Jellema of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (CMNH) for access to the Hamann-Todd Osteological Collection; J. M. Carretero of the University of Burgos (UBU) for access to the San Pablo Medieval Collection; P. Mennecier, A. Fort, V. Laborde, and L. Huet of the Musée de l’Homme (MH) in Paris; D. Grimaud-Hervé of the Département de Préhistoire, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (MNHN) in Paris; C. Stringer and R. Kruszyński of the Natural History Museum (NHM) in London; B. Maureille and C. Couture of the Université de Bordeaux 1 (PACEAUMR 5199); and V. Merlin-Anglade of the Musée d’Art et d’Archeologie du Perigord (MAAP). E. Trinkaus kindly provided some comparative data. Thank you to all of them. We appreciate the constructive and fruitful discussion provided by I. Martínez, A. Gómez-Olivencia, and M. Alcaraz-Castaño.

Part of this research was funded by the MINECO/FEDER project CGL2015-65387-C3-2-P. Lauren Ames kindly reviewed a previous English version of the manuscript. We would also like to thank the “Grupo de Bioacústica Evolutiva y Paleoantropología (BEP)” of the UAH, the BBP, and R3 research groups.

Finally, we appreciate the helpful comments and suggestions provided by the editor (Katerina Harvati) and the two anonymous reviewers who improved the manuscript.

Supplementary material

12520_2017_503_MOESM1_ESM.docx (23 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 23.3 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adrián Pablos
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Nohemi Sala
    • 2
    • 3
  • Alfonso Arribas
    • 4
  1. 1.Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH)BurgosSpain
  2. 2.Grupo de Investigación en Bioacústica Evolutiva y Paleoantropología, Área de Antropología Física, Departamento de Ciencias de la VidaUniversidad de AlcaláAlcalá de HenaresSpain
  3. 3.Centro Mixto UCM-ISCIII de Investigación sobre Evolución y Comportamiento HumanosMadridSpain
  4. 4.Estación paleontológica Valle del río FardesInstituto Geológico y Minero de EspañaMadridSpain

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