Pleistocene landscapes in central Iberia inferred from pollen analysis of hyena coprolites

Carrión, J. S.; Scott, L.; Arribas, A.; Fuentes, N.; Gil-Romera, G. and Montoya Romo, E. (2007). Pleistocene landscapes in central Iberia inferred from pollen analysis of hyena coprolites. Journal of Quaternary Science, 22(2) pp. 191–202.



New pollen data from hyena coprolites from central Spain are presented. The fossil faecal material has been recovered from two karstic systems in different localities, Villacastín and Los Torrejones, which are both around 1000 m a.s.l. The combined findings of bone remains and coprolites in both locations suggest the following chronology: late Middle Pleistocene for Villacastín and early Upper Pleistocene for Los Torrejones. The environments inferred from pollen are broadly in keeping with evidence from associated vertebrate fossil remains, and include a shifting mosaic of open and wooded habitats with abundant pine and juniper species, steppe-grassland areas with composites and chenopods, and enclaves with mixed oak forests. However, Los Torrejones appears to have been less forested than Villacastín. The abundance of oaks in Villacastín may imply the presence of refugia within an interconnected network of several enclaves during the glacial stages in the Upper Pleistocene. A possible explanation for the patchiness of the landscape may be in the role of herbivores, although the long distances and variety of habitats that hyenas had to roam through could be another explanation for the heterogeneous pollen contents in their dung.

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