Fascinating Discovery by Scientists from Gibraltar, Portugal and Spain

Doñana National Park
The exposed surface Credit: Gibraltar National Museum

SCIENTISTS from the Gibraltar National Museum have collaborated with Iberian colleagues from the universities of Lisbon, Sevilla, Huelva, Coimbra and Barcelona in research which has just been published online in the international journal Quaternary Science Reviews.

A Late Pleistocene surface dating to approximately 106,000 years ago at the base of the ‘El Asperillo’ cliff in the Doñana National Park, south-western Spain, was recently exposed by storms.

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The trampled surface was full of exceptional tracks and track ways of different terrestrial vertebrates. These have been ascribed to the ancestral wild cattle, known as aurochs, red deer, wild boar, straight-tusked elephant, wolf and also to geese and wading birds.

The scientists have interpreted the trampled surface to have been related to puddled areas of shallow waters in an inter-dune position, similar to present day examples in the Doñana National Park.

This important discovery strengthens the connection between Gibraltar’s Pleistocene ecosystems and those of Doñana, which scientists have been using as a proxy model for Gibraltar’s ancient landscapes and habitats including Gorham’s Cave.

The species identified in this research are all represented in the Gibraltar Pleistocene record from its caves and points to a rich coastal shelf landscape which once stretched from the coast of Gibraltar to the Atlantic coast of south-western Iberia all the way to Portugal.



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