We report the study of the collection of fossil bovid specimens from the Early-Middle Pleistocene Acheulian site of Gesher Benot Ya'aqov. This locality, situated in the Levantine Corridor (the bottleneck that connects Africa and Eurasia) is a key site to explain the faunal and human dispersals out of Africa during the Matuyama/Brunhes boundary around 0.8. Ma. Two species of bovine (Bos sp., and Bovini gen. et sp. indet. cf. Bison sp.), one antelope (Gazella sp. cf. G. Gazella), and another indeterminate Bovidae gen. et sp. indet., have been recorded. The largest species, Bos sp., is an African immigrant related to the species from the Eritrean site of Buia, Bos buiaensis, which evolved from the buffalo of Olduvai Pelorovis oldowayensis, and colonized the Eurasian continent in parallel with the dispersal of the Acheulian culture into the northern continent. Numerous important species first recorded in several localities of Early-Middle Pleistocene transition from Eurasia are included in this dispersal out of Africa, including the megaherbivore, Palaeoloxodon antiquus, and the carnivores Crocuta crocuta, and later, Panthera leo and Panthera pardus. This faunal turnover is coincident with the change to colder climates that dominated the Middle Pleistocene.
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We thank Prof. Naama Goren-Inbar for inviting us to study the collection of fossil bovids from Gesher Benot Ya‘aqov, and for the support she has given to both of us during the years. Our thanks go also to Prof. Ofer Bar-Yosef, the late Prof. Eitan Tchernov, and to numerous colleagues of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, especially those of the National Natural History Collections and the Department of Evolution, Systematics and Ecology of the Hebrew University. Special thanks to Rebecca Biton for her active ongoing contribution to the faunal database of GBY and for the critical reading of the article. M. Chech helped with the restoration of the Bos specimen GBY 15000. Photography was done by G. Laron, and plates were prepared by S. Ros-Montoya. This research has been supported by grants of The Irene Levi Sala CARE Archaeological Foundation, The Leakey Foundation, and the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovations (CGL2009-08827) to BMN. We thank S. Leigh, N. Goren-Inbar, and two anonymous referees, for their corrections and suggestions on a previous version of the manuscript. Finally we want to thank the Israel Science Foundation, the Center of Excellence for the study of: Climate Change in The Upper Jordan Valley Between Ca. 800Ka and 700Ka Ago –Its Impact on the Environment and Hominins and its Potential as A Prediction For Future Scenarios.
- Acheulian dispersal
- African fauna
- Levantine Corridor