Spanish researchers have created an image of how the world would have looked during the glacial period in eastern Spain. It includes a thick forest and an abundance of fruits and berries, thanks to a favorable microclimate.
The artist’s impression, which contrasts with the frozen image of the glacial period usually portrayed, is based on data gathered during work on recreating the surroundings of Bolomor Cave in Valldigna Valley in Valencia between 100,000 and 350,000 years ago.
Carrion said that the research was carried out after analyzing fossilized pollen in the archaeological sites around Bolomor Cave. He said that microfossils extracted from samples there showed that “around 300,000 years ago, Neanderthals lived in a very different environment to now, with many species no longer in the region and with a rich forest ecosystem.
University of Murcia professor Juan Ochando Tomas said experts took 50 samples from 17 different leaves and confirmed the “forest remained unchanged for hundreds of thousands of years.”
He said there were hazelnut, hackberry, carob trees, chestnut trees and madrone trees. Due to the rich food source, Neanderthals lived in the region for many years.
In the Middle Pleistocene and Late Pleistocene eras, there were glacial and non-glacial periods. There would have been a glacial refuge in the area, much like an oasis,” said Ochando.
The dense forest also confirms the theory that Neanderthals’ hunting strategy used more stalking and ambushes than previously believed.
Gabriela Amoros, the paleoartist in charge of the re-creation, said the image was based on data collected from the area with “some parts of the artists’ imagination, taking into consideration the Mediterranean light and all the most important iconic forms of the species, so that they could easily be recognized.”
The research team is still working in other sites, including Gorham’s Cave in the U.K., Vanguard Cave in Gibraltar, Carihuela Cave in Granada, Spain, and Sima de las Palomas in Murcia and the cave of Guadiz-Baza in southern Spain.