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Cantabrian cornice has experienced seven cooling and warming phases over past 41,000 years
Date:6/3/2009

ating the seventh and last period ended, as this "could correspond with the Bronze Age, the Ice Age, or the start of agricultural expansion by human beings, which certainly would have impacted on the wild animals living close to the caves.

However, the study shows that during earlier periods at the end of the Late Pleistocene, the species that predominated during cold periods were rodents and insectivores that were well-adapted to environments with only sparse vegetation. "When climatic conditions became more mild at the end of the last cold pulse of the Late Pleistocene, known as the Dryas III, forest-dwelling rodents and insectivores flourished and become more frequent in the associations", explains Cuenca-Bescs. We now know that the water vole (Arvicola terrestris) dominated in this period.

According to the researcher, this domination by woodland species started to decline in the area only at the end of the Holocene, when human activities began to change the landscape, and when deforestation resulting from permanent settlements and agriculture can be observed "even though the climate continued to be favourable to these kinds of organisms".

The study has also shown that the majority of the Pleistocene taxa became extinct around 10,000 years ago while "some cold-adapted species, which had managed to survive, moved to the north of Europe, leaving our warmer latitudes behind", the scientist concludes.


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