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Big climatic changes revealed by tiny fossils. Palaeoenvironment at the boundary between the Early and Middle Würm in the surroundings of Divje babe I (W Slovenia)


Minimum Number of Individuals (MNI ) and the Number of Identified Specimens (NISP) in small mammal fossil assemblages from layers 8/10–13 of Divje babe I: excavation campaigns 1990–1999 and 2006. Also given is the total volume of the removed sediment fraction (particle size 0.5 to 10 mm) per each of the two samples, from which the small mammal remains were subsequently extracted.


Small-scale rescue excavations of the Late Pleistocene layers of the Palaeolithic cave site of Divje babe I, performed in 2006, yielded the remains of at least 113 specimens of small mammals. They belong to at least 15 different species: Sorex alpinus, S. araneus, S. minutus, Talpa europaea, Chionomys nivalis, Arvicola ex gr. amphibious - schermann, Myodes glareolus, Microtus agrestis, M. arvalis, M. liechtensteini, M. subterraneus, Apodemus sylvaticus, A. flavicollis, Glis glsi and at least one bat species. It can be inferred on the basis of the small mammal assemblages that an increase of humidity in the final stages of OIS 5a led to the progressive extension of forests on an expanse of up to then dominating open habitats. The process continued also in OIS 3, when a mosaic of predominantly coniferous forest with meadows and accumulations of rocky boulders is supposed to have existed in the area of Divje babe I. Parallel to the worsening of the climate, a change in the sex structure of cave bears hibernating in the cave has been observed, with an increased share of males. The presented results are to be seen as an independent confirmation of the already published palaeoenvironmental interpretations for the area of Divje babe I at the boundary of the Early and Middle Würm.

Keywords: Divje babe I, Slovenia, Late Pleistocene, small mammal fauna, cave bear, palaeoclimate


2011, (Opera Instituti Archaeologici Sloveniae, 21), 280 pages, 44 b-w photographs, 10 drawings, 52 tables, 71 graphs and 9 maps, 20 x 29 cm hardcover, ISBN 978-961-254-257-3.

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