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ABSENCE OF Equus hydruntinus IN THE IBERIAN BRONZE AGE FAUNAL ASSEMBLANGE: THE MITOCHONDRIAL DNA EVIDENCE FROM THE MIRADOR CAVE (ATAPUERCA, SPAIN)
Jaime Lira-Garrido  1, 2, *@  , Patricia MartÍn  3, 4@  , Josep María VergÈs  3, 4@  , Juan Luis Arsuaga  1, 5@  
1 : Centro Mixto UCM-ISCIII de Evolución y Comportamiento Humanos  (Centro Mixto UCM-ISCIII)
Avenida Monforte de Lemos 5, 28029 – Madrid -  Espagne
2 : Departamento de Paleontología, Facultad de CC. Geológicas, Universidad Complutense de Madrid.
C/ José Antonio Novais 12, 28040 – Madrid -  Espagne
3 : IPHES - Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social  (IPHES)
Zona Educacional 4, Edifici W3, Campus Sescelades, 43007 - Tarragona, Catalonia -  Espagne
4 : Universitat Rovira i Virgili. Àrea de Prehistòria, Facultat de Lletres  (URV)  -  Site web
Av. Catalunya, 35, 43002 - Tarragona, Catalonia -  Espagne
5 : Departamento de Paleontología, Facultad de CC. Geológicas, Universidad Complutense de Madrid.  (UCM)
C/ José Antonio Novais 12, 28040 – Madrid -  Espagne
* : Auteur correspondant

Equus hydruntinus had a broad distribution in Europe during the Pleistocene, with a decline starting after the Last Glacial Maximum. During the Holocene, the European Equus hydruntinus populations were highly fragmented, becoming extinct at different times. Based on scarce Iberian faunal remains from Neolithic to Bronze Age, it has been suggested that the Iberian Peninsula kept a residual Equus hydruntinus population. Nevertheless, different reanalyses of the faunal remains and stratigraphical conditions, have cast doubts about their chronological timeframes and even their taxonomic association. Furthermore it has been proposed that Equus hydruntinus was not present in Iberian Peninsula during the Holocene. 

On the other hand, two new iberian Holocene faunal remains have been described as Equus hydruntinus. This taxon has been identified in a recent study on the faunal assemblage from the Mirador cave (Atapuerca, Spain), from Neolithic and Bronze Age cultural contexts. Two teeth were recovered from stratigraphic layers associated to each cultural period, and morphological and metric dental criteria were applied on them.

In order to corroborate the Equus hydruntinus presence in Mirador cave site, we have carried out genetic analysis from the two faunal remains. Mitochondrial DNA control region extractions and phylogenetical analyses were performed. Comparative sequences included extant members of the genus Equus (including sequences from modern and ancient individuals) and extinct Equus species, paying special attention to the Equus hydruntinus relationships.

We obtained DNA only from the Bronze Age tooth, and the phylogenetic analyses clustered its sequence among ancient and modern Equus caballus populations. The Mirador Bronze Age sequence clustered to the Lusitano group C, an haplogroup defined after Lusitano horse mitochondrial DNA analyses, and documented in the past exclusively in the Iberian Neolithic - Bronze Age horse populations.

This new study highlights the complexity in the taxonomic identification of Equus hydruntinus based on biometrical analysis, a question previously detected in other publications. Moreover our results reinforce the proposal that this equid was not present in Iberia during the Bronze Age times.



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