Taphonomy of the Middle Pleistocene large mammals at Grotte des Rhinocéros, Casablanca, Morocco

Daujeard C.1, Geraads D.2,3, Gallotti R.4, Rué M.5,6, Raynal J.-P.3,7, Mohib A.8, Lefèvre D.5

  1. Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Sorbonne Universités, CNRS, UMR 7194, Histoire Naturelle de l’Homme Préhistorique, Paris, France, courcier.antoine@laposte.net; camille.daujeard @mnhn.fr
  2. Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Sorbonne Universités, CNRS, UMR 7207, Centre de Recherche sur la Paléobiodiversité et les Paléoenvironnements, Paris, France, denis.geraads@mnhn.fr
  3. Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Department of Human Evolution, Leipzig, Germany.
  4. Université Bordeaux, CNRS, MCC, UMR 5199, De la Préhistoire à l’Actuel : Culture, Environnement, Anthropologie, Talence, France. rosaliagallotti@yahoo.it
  5. Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, CNRS, MCC, UMR 5140, Archéologie des Sociétés méditerranéennes, Montpellier, France, david.lefevre@cnrs.fr
  6. Paléotime SARL, Villard-de-Lans, France.
  7. Université Bordeaux 1, CNRS, MCC, UMR 5199, De la Préhistoire à l’Actuel : Culture, Environnement, Anthropologie, Talence, France, jpraynal@wanadoo.fr
  8. Direction provinciale de la Culture, Kénitra, Maroc, amohibs@yahoo.fr


The Grotte des Rhinocéros (GDR) site is famous since 1993 for its Rhinocerotids (Ceratotherium mauritanicum) remains associated with Second Regional Acheulean lithic assemblages. These Middle Pleistocene deposits also provided a very rich spectrum of other large mammals. Among ungulates, Bovids largely dominate; they consist mostly of Antilopini (Gazella atlantica) and Alcelaphini (Damaliscus sp.). Some scarce Equids (Equus cf. mauritanicus), Suids (Kolpochoerus maroccanus and Phacochoerus cf. africanus) and Camelids (Camelus cf. thomasi) are also present. Carnivores represent around 10% of the NISP and are quite diverse. The most common carnivore is the endemic Canid Lupulella mohibi, which is much more abundant than larger carnivores, such as Hyenids (Hyaena and Crocuta), Ursids (Ursus bibersoni) or Felids (Panthera pardus). Large rodents are represented by Hystrix cf. cristata and primates by the two genera Homo and Theropithecus. Taphonomic study of the roughly 4000 faunal remains provided by the 2006-2009 excavations in the upper and lower stratigraphic units has revealed numerous bone modification agents. The fossils are well preserved except for the presence of multiple superficial sediment abrasion marks. Tooth marks from carnivores and rodents are common (4-8% of the NR), and some anthropogenic activity is present. The multiplicity of the initial events creates the difficulty of taphonomic equifinality (cf. Lyman, 2004), making difficult interpretations and leading to make additional intensive analysis. A few dozen remains (around 1% of the NR) exhibiting cut-marks, especially on bones from Bovids and Equids, testify to carcass processing by hominins. Butchery marks are widespread along long bone diaphyses whereas porcupine and carnivore tooth marks are present on both shaft and articular portions. Current data are insufficient to explain precisely the bone accumulation process, but the taphonomic analysis already indicates the importance of carnivores and rodents actions on the fossil assemblage, and to a lesser extent the activities of humans.

Type Communication
Langue du texte intégral English
Thématiques REG.002: Arrivée, transformations et disparition de l’Acheuléen en Afrique du nord
Mots-Clés Acheulean; Middle Pleistocene; North Africa; Atlantic Morocco; Grotte des Rhinocéros; Cut marks; Human subsistence; Taphonomy;
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