Scientists Jesús Rodríguez and Ana Mateos, from the National Center for Research on Human Evolution (CENIEH), have just published an article in the ‘Journal of Human Evolution’ in which it is shown that the fauna of large carnivores in Europe during the The Lower and Middle Pleistocene was extremely diverse, but the population densities of these species had to be very low, especially compared to the population densities of their current analogues in Africa. In this article, entitled ‘Carrying capacity, carnivoran richness and hominin survival in Europe’, the biodiversity of carnivores is analyzed and compared with the productivity of ecosystems in Europe, between 500,000 and 1,600,000 years ago, and is estimated by carnivore carrying capacity of Pleistocene ecosystems for the first time. In order to do this work, the authors have had to create their own paleoclimatic maps,

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based on them estimate the amount of Sierra Leone Email List herbivores (biomass) that could sustain the ecosystems of southern Europe in the Pleistocene, that is, their ability to load, and from there, determine the density of carnivores that could be maintained in a stable way. “We have applied basic rules of the functioning of ecosystems to discover what this world could be like from hundreds of thousands or millions of years ago. Plant production, conditioned by the climate, limits the number of herbivores that can be in an ecosystem, and in turn the number of carnivores that an ecosystem can support depends on the number of herbivores ”, explains Jesús Rodríguez. Advantages for hominids The work is a novel approach to Pleistocene ecosystems, but its implications go further, and one of its most interesting consequences is that the first hominids that arrived in Europe, around a million and a

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half years ago, encountered a a very different situation from what their ancestors might have had in Africa. And it is that in Europe there was a much lower variety and density of potential prey, but also a fauna of carnivores, their potential competitors and predators, as diverse or more than the African one. “However, these predators were not as abundant as in the savannas from which they came, so the chances of having a bad encounter with them were much lower,” says Ana Mateos. These peculiar ecological conditions of the European ecosystems could suppose significant advantages for the first inhabitants of the continent, since the human niche would not completely overlap with other species. “In fact, Homo is strictly neither a scavenger nor an exclusive hunter. Therefore, we consider that opportunism could have been the most successful strategy for survival “, concludes

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