Le gisement pléistocène moyen récent de Romain-la-Roche (Doubs, France) : synthèse biostratigraphique et paléoécologique

Abstract : The Uppermost Middle Pleistocene site of Romain-la-Roche (Doubs, France) : synthesis of biostratigraphic and palaeoecological conclusions.- The site of Romain-la-Roche is a karstic swallowhole which acted as a natural trap where fall numerous large mammals, and where diverse small vertebrates were transported as preys of birds. The site was excavated between 1980 and 1991 by Patrick Paupe and his team. It yielded 52 species of mammals (more than 10 000 identifiable remains), more than 13 of species of birds, two of reptiles, one of amphibian, two of fishes and undetermined gastropods. Among the mammalian species 34.6 % are of rodents (3975 remains), 9.6 % insectivores, 28.8 % carnivores (3303 remains), 3.8 % proboscidians (more than 300 remains including 80 usables). The most numerous micromammals are Microtus arvalis, M. agrestis, M. gregalis and Arvicola terrestris. Dominant large mammalian species are in decreasing order Bison priscus priscus, Bos primigenius, Cervus elaphus, Equus cf. achenheimensis, Rangifer tarandus, Coelodonta antiquitatis praecursor and Mammuthus intermedius ; in the same order the main carnivores species are Canis lupus, Ursus spelaeus, Panthera spelaea and Vulpes vulpes. There are some rare species like Panthera pardus, Cuon alpinus and Gulo gulo. Some mammalian species associations, like Mammuthus intermedius and M. primigenius, Ursus arctos and U. spelaeus or Lepus cf. europaeus and L. timidus are rarely encountered elsewhere. Microfauna is abundant and diverse but there are practically no Cheiroptera. The site displays quite a large biodiversity. The mammalianpopulation is comprised of individuals of all ages. Stone falls are responsible of numerous fractures but some anatomical pieces are very well preserved. The degree of anatomical evolution of the Romain-la-Roche large mammals population found in the VI-VII and VIII layers allows us to date these layers of the upper part of the biozone MNQ 24 (end of the MIS 6), corresponding about to the end of the penultimate glaciation. Such a result confirms the uranium / thorium and ESR / U-Th datations which gave respectively 150 000 + 18 000 years and 159 000 + 10 000 to 165 000 + 9000 years. For unexplained reasons the micromammals indicate an appreciably younger age. The association of large mammals found in the VI-VII and VIII layers show a moderately open mosaic-type landscape, under a rather cold and wet climate ; the snow cover was limited. The palynological analysis of some coprolites gives about the same result : a landscape constituted of tree groups not huddled together, in an open space under a moderately wet temperate climate. Romain-la-Roche is a reference palaeontological site for the extreme end of the Middle Pleistocene, a period during which such sites are rather rare in Western Europe. Neanderthal Man seems to have entered sporadically the site and left in it some Mousterian artefacts but the accumulation of fossils in the swallowhole was not the result of any human agency.
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Guérin Claude, Patrick Paupe, Jehanne Affolter, Alain Argant, Jacqueline Argant, et al.. Le gisement pléistocène moyen récent de Romain-la-Roche (Doubs, France) : synthèse biostratigraphique et paléoécologique. Revue de Paléobiologie, Museum d'Histoire Naturelle de la Ville de Geneve, 2010. ⟨hal-01465979⟩

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