Avian eggshell remains in the human bearing level TD6 of the Gran Dolina site (Early Pleistocene, Atapuerca, Spain)

Carmen Núñez-Lahuerta, Miguel Moreno Azanza, Gloria Cuenca-Bescós

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7 Citations (Scopus)


The site of Gran Dolina (Atapuerca, Spain) has a 19-metre-thick Lower and Middle Pleistocene infilling, divided into eleven levels. This work is focused on the level TD6 (0.8–0.9Ma), consisting of a succession of debris flow and fluvial facies with a high diversity of vertebrates, including Homo antecessor. Here we describe for first time eggshell fragments from Atapuerca, recovered by screen washing of sediments from the excavations. The 22 eggshell fragments recovered are small and poorly preserved, with all material showing signs of abrasion. All eggshells have smooth outer surfaces, densely packed mammillae, and are multi-layered. Thus, they can be identified as avian eggshells. Most fragments were relatively well intact, with no signs of recrystallisation, as evidenced by cathodoluminescence analysis, however the degree of abrasion of the fragments hindered the identification of some ultrastructural characters. Three taxa have been identified: Charadriiformes, Gruidae and Anseriformes (all recorded in the TD6 assemblage by osteological remains). The association supports the presence of water bodies close to the site. The relatively high diversity of ootaxa in the small sample size analysed suggest that a wide range of the nesting species inhabited surrounding areas of Gran Dolina at the moment of accumulation of the TD6 level.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHistorical Biology
Issue number5
Early online date20 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Atapuerca
  • Aves
  • Early Pleistocene
  • Eggshells
  • Gran Dolina


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