Carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes of well-preserved Middle Pleistocene bone collagen from Schöningen (Germany) and their paleoecological implications

Margot Kuitems, Johannes Plicht, van der, Dorothée Drucker, Thijs Van Kolfschoten, Sanne Palstra, Hervé Bocherens

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34 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes in bone collagen can provide valuable information about the dietand habitat of mammal species. However, bone collagen degrades in normal circumstances very rapidly,and isotope analyses are therefore usually restricted to fossil material with a Late Pleistocene or Holoceneage. The Middle Pleistocene site of Sch€oningen, dated to around 300,000 years ago, yielded bones andteeth with an exceptionally good state of collagen preservation. This allowed us to measure reliablebiogenic carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios for different herbivorous taxa from the families Ele-phantidae, Rhinocerotidae, Equidae, Cervidae, and Bovidae. The results provide insights regarding thepaleoenvironmental setting in which Middle Pleistocene hominins operated. The vegetation consumedby the herbivores from the famous spear horizon originates from open environments. During the climaticReinsdorf Interglacial optimum, the landscape seems to have been relatively open as well, but certainlyincluded parts that were forested. The results also indicate some niche partitioning; different herbivorespecies used different plant resources. For instance, the horses seem to have been predominantlybrowsers, while the straight-tusked elephants were feeding chiefly on grass
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-113
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
Volume89
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2015

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