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Competition for food 1.5 million years ago: humans first, wolves last | Sciences

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Obtaining food was not an easy task in the Lower Pleistocene, approximately 1.5 million years ago, in what is now Orce (Granada). Not in Orce or anywhere, really. When it came to finding something to eat, humans faced fierce competition from other carnivores, and generally unfriendly beasts…

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Obtaining food was not an easy task in the Lower Pleistocene, approximately 1.5 million years ago, in what is now Orce (Granada). Not in Orce or anywhere, really. When it came time to find something to eat, humans faced fierce competition from other carnivores, usually also unfriendly beasts.

The meat that was used as food for humans was the same that was fed to the rest of the carnivores. Therefore, above all, humans were concerned with regulating meal order. As a result of that priority according to investigation that have been implemented Granada, Salamanca and Complutense Universities in Madrid, indicates that when there was common meat, the first to eat were humans and the last were wolves. Specifically, the canis mosbachensis, which is one of the ancestors of those animals, is somewhat smaller and weighs just over 15 kilograms. In between, there were other species that took advantage of it. in Ursspecifically in An area called Barranco LeonThey are saber-toothed tigers or ancestors of today’s wild dogs (hyena dogs) and foxes.

Millions of years ago in the Pleistocene, El Barranco Leon was inhabited by: wolves, foxes, lycons, saber-toothed tigers and humans.UGR

Juan Antonio Jimenez ArenasThe researcher and professor of archeology at the University of Granada, with many years of research on this site in Granada, explains how difficult it was for our ancestors and animals to coexist in that historical period. Humans lived in refuge areas. In this particular area they resided in the Sierra de la Umbria, “in what is now Albacete,” and were descended into the hunting and animal region of present-day Urs, enough. It was an area with many vegetables. There the herbivores feed while the carnivores roam, waiting some death. And if they did not die, they were hunted. It was what is known as a game of life and death. In Urs, in a broad sense, there were areas of residence, shelter and hunting grounds, ”he explains.

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Descending from their quiet area, if possible, to the hunting ground, the humans would find a scenario like the one described by the professor. “In the lower region of the Sierra de la Umbria, there was a large salt lake which made human life impossible, but a period of heavy rain caused material to be drawn into that lake. Then the salt water began to recede and fresh water appeared. This and the fact that many of the materials it carries The water was easy to use by humans to make tools, which made them arrive and settle in the area. He adds with them many other animals. Saber tigers, reptiles, ancestors of bear and hippopotamus, as well as horses and gazelles. Hyenas and wild dogs are also the only ones capable of breaking bones.

While human imprinting in bones is mainly for tools used to break bones or fragment bones to remove bone marrow from their interior, the rest of the animals left traces of their bites and tears. Humans, Jimenez Arenas recalls, “did not have the physical ability to kill, chop or tear apart, except with the help of tools, because their teeth were small and blunt. Large animals could do that.”

A curious fact is that while there is no definitive evidence of these human bites in Orce – there really are some in Atapuerca, for example-, it is precisely a tooth, a molar found in 2002, that allowed us to Identification of the most ancient in Western Europe, with 1.4 million years.

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Paleontological research team. UGR

Until now, bite marks and markings on the bones were difficult to identify. According to the researcher, the size of the animal can be guessed from the type of bite, and thus assigned to some organisms by approximation. Now, new AI technologies have made it possible to feed a database of 613 current animal bites to their ancestors. There is news in Orce. compared to that bodyIt was possible to pinpoint, Jimenez Arenas explains, which animals correspond to the different markings on the bones that appeared in the different fossils. Just over 3,500 fossils were reviewed in this study. Finally, 368 marks appeared on 167 bones, the researchers explain in the article published in the journal Quadruple Science Review.

Among them, explains Jiménez-Arenas, only 10% are refractory, which is surprising, although it is not the subject of this study, a widely held previous idea: there was no strong competition between humans and hyenas as previously thought, least in this region of south of Europe.

Although it may go without saying, it is useful to remember an idea. There are no traces of vegetable consumption in humans at that time. “Vegetables leave hardly, if any, clues in the archaeological record, some pollen that guides us as to what we could have eaten, but not as to what they really ate,” Jimenez Arenas adds. Yes, there are signs of human consumption of meat through the marks of their tools on the bones.

The results of the comparison of the fossils with the bite database indicate that the most common bite is that canis Muspachinsis Or wolves: “Some super opportunistic animals that, despite their small size, cannot kill large animals. Perhaps they resemble current jackals,” the researcher from Granada explains. “If they have to wait until everyone has finished eating, they do.” Maybe that’s why, because when they arrived, they had to tear themselves apart to find something to eat, which is why their bite is the most common.

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A million and a half years ago, man was more of a scavenger than a hunter, according to Professor Jimenez Arenas: “It was an essential scavenger. They first got to the corpses.” It is known, he says, because “the entrails are the first to be eaten. It is the softest, the most nourishing, and the first to spoil. And we have bones with evidence of evisceration using the means.” The researcher said that the evisceration process took place after cutting the meat and cutting the pelvis, ribs and other parts. The remains left by the humans were then used to feed the rest of the animals until the wolves finally arrived. “They wouldn’t need much either, since they were small,” he concludes.

Magnifying glass comparison. artificial intelligence

The evolution of artificial intelligence in the twenty-first century. The magnifying glass was invented by the English monk Roger Bacon in the 13th century. It is nearly eight centuries old which does not make these machines incompatible. On the contrary, “artificial intelligence by itself does not solve any problem,” explains Jimenez Arenas. It all starts with a magnifying glass because the first decision in these investigations is human. “All bones first pass through the geologist’s magnifying glass and are scanned down to the last square millimeter of their surface. Then it goes to the scanner and starts the automated process which we consider good if the match between the fossil marker and the database exceeds 90%,” the researcher concludes.

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