In 1996, an international team of scientists led by the University of Zaragoza (UNIZAR) started to carry out a paleontological survey in the cave of El Mirn. Since then they have focused on analysing the fossil remains of the bones and teeth of small vertebrates that lived in the Cantabrian region over the past 41,000 years, at the end of the Quaternary. The richness, great diversity and good conservation status of the fossils have enabled the researchers to carry out a paleoclimatic study, which has been published recently in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
"We carried out every kind of statistical analysis over a six-month period at the University of New Mexico, analysing around 100,000 remains, of which 4,000 were specifically identified, and catalogued according to species and the number of individuals in each stratum", Gloria Cuenca-Bescs, lead author of the study and a researcher in the Paleontology Department of the UNIZAR's Institute for Scientific Research (IUCA), tells SINC.
The resulting study involves climatic inferences being drawn on the basis of the fossil associations of small mammals whose remains have been deposited in El Mirn over the past 41,000 years. The fossil associations of these mammals reveal the composition of fauna living around the cave at the time, and have made it possible to develop a paleoclimatological and paleoenvironmental reconstruction of the environment.
The research shows that there have been seven periods of cooling and warming in the Cantabrian cornice over the past 41,000 years. An analysis carried out by other authors on data relating to pollen, marine isotope stratigraphy, and materials deposited by glaciers backs this up this result.
The water rat was king of the Late Pleistocene
According to the study, there were four unstable cold periods, two more stable ones, and a temperate climatic period at the El Mirn cave. The scientists are unsure about d
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