The Gravettian child mandible from El Castillo Cave (Puente Viesgo, Cantabria, Spain)



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Garralda Benajes, María Dolores and Maíllo-Fernández, José-Manuel and Higham, Thomas and Neira, Ana and Bernaldo de Quirós, Federico (2019) The Gravettian child mandible from El Castillo Cave (Puente Viesgo, Cantabria, Spain). American Journal of Physical Anthropology . pp. 1-20. ISSN 0002-9483, ESSN: 1096-8644

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Objectives: This article documents an incomplete child's mandible found in H. Obermaier's excavation campaign (in 1912) in El Castillo Cave, Spain. This fossil was assigned to what was then considered a phase of the “Aurignacian-delta”.
Materials and Methods: We exhaustively analyzed the original Obermaier documents, with particular attention to those corresponding to the year of the discovery. We extracted a bone sample to radiocarbon date the fossil directly. We also followed established methods to measure, describe and compare the mandible with other human remains.
Results: The analysis of Obermaier's documents and new data derived from modern excavations, show that the mandible was discovered in an interior area of the cave. Direct radiocarbon dating yielded a result of 24,720 ± 210 BP and 29,300 – 28,300 cal BP, a date similar to those known for the Gravettian technocomplex both in the El Castillo site and across Europe. The jaw corresponded to a child aged 4–5 years, with modern morphology, but with a certain robustness, especially in the symphyseal region. Comparisons were made with several modern children (Granada, Spitalfields, and Black series) and with immature fossils (European Aurignacian and Gravettian). The few differences between the modern and the fossil children are related to the symphysis and mandibular corpus thickness and height, and to the symphyseal morphology and larger teeth dimensions. Paleoisotopic data for Castillo C correspond with a varied diet. Numerous cutmarks were identified in the midline internal symphyseal region.
Discussion and Conclusions: The results agree with those published for other fossils of similar age and chronology (e.g., the mandible of the Lagar Velho child) and show clear differences from the jaws of the young Neanderthals. The interpretation of the original data on the mandible discovery may indicate the destruction of a burial and the displacement, by percolation or by a den, at least of part of the skeleton. The perimortem manipulations in the child's mandible are the first described in the Gravettian world of Western Europe.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Cutmarks; Dentition; Europe; Mandible; Modern human; Upper Paleolithic; Spain
Subjects:Medical sciences > Biology > Biological anthropology
ID Code:57269
Deposited On:08 Oct 2019 10:35
Last Modified:14 Jun 2022 11:22

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