"It is also interesting to see that pollen remains are preserved often in better conditions than in the soil of the same age."The study was published online Dec.
IPHES, Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social, C/ Marcel.lí Domingo s/n, Campus Sescelades URV (Edifici W3), 43007 Tarragona, Spain; Area de Prehistoria, Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), Avinguda de Catalunya 35, 43002 Tarragona, Spain; Unit associated to Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Departamento de Paleobiología, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (MNCN), Madrid, Spain.
We can, however compare the technological and palaeoeconomic strategies adopted by different species of hominins during two key phases of the occupation of Europe.
Hominin dietary specialization is crucial to understanding the evolutionary changes of craniofacial biomechanics and the interaction of food processing methods’ effects on teeth.
The microfossils included traces of raw animal tissue, uncooked starch granules (suggesting that the hominin ate grasses and a species of pine), insect fragments and a possible toothpick sliver, the researchers said.
[In Photos: Hominin Skulls with Mixed Traits Discovered]All of the fibers in the plaque were uncharred, and researchers found no evidence of microcharcoal inhalation, usually a sign that an individual was near a fire, they said."Obtaining evidence for any aspect of hominin life at this extremely early date is very challenging," the study's lead author, Karen Hardy, an honorary research associate at the University of York in England, said in a statement.
The isotopic signals are indicative of mainly carnivorous dietary regimens for Neandertal populations.
However, carnivorous regimens contrast with the buccal dental microwear analyses that show dietary habits that include significant amounts of abrasive plant foods that cause highly abrasive loads on enamel surfaces compared with modern hunter-gatherer populations has focused on Neandertals, an independent and comprehensive reconstruction of dietary ecology in Lower Paleolithic European hominins is necessary.
"Here, we have been able to demonstrate that these earliest Europeans understood and exploited their forested environment to obtain a balanced diet 1.2 million years ago, by eating a range of different foods and combining starchy plant food with meat," added Hardy, who is also a research professor at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in Spain.
It's not entirely clear when human ancestors first used fire for cooking.
The earliest evidence for human-tended fires in Europe dates to 800,000 years ago at Cueva Negra (in Spain) and a short time later at Gesher Benot Ya'aqov (in Israel).
Given that the early humans at Sima del Elefante likely didn't have fire 1.2 million years ago, awareness of fire technology probably occurred sometime between 1.2 million and 800,000 years ago in Europe, the researchers said.
The lower levels of TE (Units TE7-TE14) are an essential reference for understanding the early stages of the colonization of Europe.