Beyond sabres: The Schöningen Homotherium latidens (Owen, 1846) finds and their implications for hominin subsistence in the Lower Palaeolithic of Europe

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Beyond sabres: The Schöningen Homotherium latidens (Owen, 1846) finds and their implications for hominin subsistence in the Lower Palaeolithic of Europe

Type: Research master thesis
Title: Beyond sabres: The Schöningen Homotherium latidens (Owen, 1846) finds and their implications for hominin subsistence in the Lower Palaeolithic of Europe
Author: Verheijen, Ivo
Issue Date: 2017-08-30
Keywords: Homotherium latidens, Schöningen, Lower Palaeolithic, hominin subsistence
Abstract: Skeletal remains of the European sabre-toothed cat have been discovered at the Lower Paleolithic sites of Schöningen (Germany). With an approximate age of 300.000 years BP, they are among the youngest finds of this species in Eurasia. Remains of at least three individuals have been identified, implying that sabre-toothed cats were not a rare encounter, in contrast to the earlier assumption of its extinction 500.000 years ago in Eurasia. The presence of this large -sized animal in the Middle Pleistocene carnivore guild has implications for hominin subsistence as well: Homo heidelbergensis has entered the Pleistocene carnivore guild at this time, but its carnivore niche is still under debate. Although hunting at this time is currently widely accepted as the mode of protein procurement by hominins, the presence of large carnivore species as Homotherium might again spark of the hunting-gathering debate. Passive scavenging from felid kills has been refuted due to the marginal yields, but active, or power scavenging should be reassessed. The famous wooden spears, encountered at the site, can therefore have had a different purpose, chasing of large carnivores from their kills. This thesis contains detailed descriptions of the Homotherium remains from Schöningen. Features that are indicative of their behavior are highlighted, compared with other findings from the Plio-Pleistocene and discussed. The total assemblage provides a unique insight into the skeletal morphology of the latest occurrences of Homotherium latidens. It is clearly smaller in size in comparison to Early Pleistocene finds, and demonstrates a mosaic of ancestral and more derived features. The cranial fragments show great potential for future research on the brains shape and the auditory structures, possibly yielding taxonomic and behavioural insights. A large humerus contains hominin modifications, demonstrating its previous use as a percussor tool of working flint. It emphasizes the co-occurrence of hominins and Homotherium at the site. The outcomes of this thesis demand a further revision of the Schöningen carnivore guild and their taphonomic imprint on the Schöningen assemblages, reassessing the role of early hominins within this carnivore guild.
Supervisor: Kolfschoten, Thijs van
Faculty: Faculty of Archaeology
Department: Archaeology (Research master)
Specialisation: RMSc Bioarchaeology
ECTS Credits: 35
Evaluation: Recommended
Handle: http://hdl.handle.net/1887/52527
 

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