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17 May 2015
More evidence found for Neanderthal adaptability

There is a cave in Northern Israel which is known locally as the Amud Cave. This cave was occupied at various times over the millennia but most notably during two Ice Ages, separated by 10,000 years. The caves have previously provided evidence of Neanderthal occupation, including one specimen which had the largest cranial capacity of any Neanderthal found so far.
     An international group of researchers have been examining the remains of gazelle found in the caves, to gather more information on Neanderthal hunting patterns. The periods they researched covered two distinct Ice Ages. The first is known as Marine Isotope Stage 4 (69,000 - 127,000 BCE) and the second is known as Marine Isotope Stage 3 (55,000 - 68,000 BCE).
     By analysis of tooth enamel (oxygen, carbon and strontium isotopes) they worked out that the gazelle had grazed on the higher slopes, above the cave, during the earlier Ice Age, which had been drier and so grazing was restricted to higher altitudes, but tat they had foraged much closer, on the lower slopes during the later one, when food was more abundant.
     Team Leader, Gideon Hartman of the University of Connecticut (USA) is quoted as saying "This study shows that Neanderthals adjusted their hunting territories considerably in relation to varying environmental conditions over the course of occupation in  the Amud Caves".

Edited from Popular Archaeology (7 May 2015)

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