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Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Print Price: $209.00

528 pp.
176 b/w, 70 color, 8 1/2" x 11"


Publication date:
November 2012

Imprint: OUP US

Life and Death at the Pestera cu Oase

A Setting for Modern Human Emergence in Europe

Edited by Erik Trinkaus, Silviu Constantin and Joco Zilhco

Series : Human Evolution Series

The Pestera cu Oase is a sealed limestone cavern in southwestern Romania which served principally as a hibernation den for Pleistocene cave bears and wolves, but also contained the fossil remains of the earliest modern humans in Europe. Currently inaccessible except through cave diving and rock climbing, the cave preserved its contents undisturbed for tens of thousands of years. To understand the cave, its contents, the bear and wolves, and especially the humans, an international team mapped and excavated the Pestera cu Oase from 2002 to 2005, and has since analyzed its remains in detail.

The result was a wealth of information on the geology and paleontology of this cave as a reflection of life in the southwestern Carpathians 40-50 thousand years ago. This volume presents those findings. Among other things, the large cave bears provided the first solid evidence of the omnivorous nature of these not-so-gentle giants. The deer remains brought into the cave by wolves are among the largest known in Europe and document the westernmost extent of the eastern (wapiti) variant of this species.

And the human remains, a complete lower jaw of a young adult and a largely complete skull of an adolescent, furhish detailed information on the anatomy of the earliet modern Europeans, who were modern without being fully modern. They combine an overall distinctly modern anatomy with traits reminescent of earlier archaic humans and among the largest rear molars in the genus Homo. They thus document the initial spread of modern humans into the cul-de-sac of Europe, the complex ancestry of those humans, and the ongoing nature of human evolution after the established of people like ourselves.

Readership : Anthropologists, Quaternary geologists, mammalian paleontologists, bear specialists.

I. Introduction and Background
1. Erik Trinkaus, Silviu Constantin, JoÙo ZilhÙo: Introduction
2. Stefan Milota, Mircea Gherase, Laurentiu Sarcina, Ricardo Rodrigo, Oana Moldovan, Erik Trinkaus, Silviu Constantin, JoÙo ZilhÙo: Exploration and Documentation of the Pestera cu Oase
3. JoÙo ZilhÙo, Stefan Milota, Ricardo Rodrigo, Silviu Constantin, Erik Trinkaus: Problems, Approaches and Fieldwork: 2004-2005
II. The Cave and Its Contents
4. Silviu Constantin: The Karst Geology of the Ponor-Plopa System in its Regional Context
5. Silviu Constantin, Cristian-Mihai Munteanu, Stefan Milota, Laurentiu Sarcina, Mircea Gherase, JoÙo ZilhÙo: The Ponor-Plopa Cave System: Description, Sediments, and Genesis
6. Silviu Constantin, Stein-Erik Lauritzen: Uranium-Series Dating on Speleothems from the Pestera cu Oase
7. Rainer Grn, Tegan Kelly, Maxime Aubert: Electron Spin Resonance Dating of Vertebrate Remains from the Pestera cu Oase
8. Thomas Higham, Eva Maria Wild: Radiocarbon Dating of the Pestera cu Oase Faunal Remains
9. Cristian Panaiotu, Catalin Petrea, Viorel Horoi, Cristina-Emilia Panaiotu, Silviu Constantin: Rock Magnetic Data of Late Pleistocene sediments from the Pestera cu Oase and their Paleoclimatic Significance
10. JoÙo ZilhÙo, Ricardo Rodrigo, H<.l%Sne Rougier, Stefan Milota: The Distributions of Finds and Features
III. The Cave Bears
11. Martina Pacher, J.r"me QuilSs: Cave Bear Paleontology and Paleobiology at the Pestera cu Oase: Fossil Population Structure and Size Variability
12. Martina Pacher, J.r"me QuilSs: Taphonomic Analysis of the Cave Bear Remains from the Pestera cu Oase
13. Mathias Stiller, Michael Hofreiter: An Ancient DNA Perspective on the Cave Bears from the Pestera cu Oase
IV. The Other Vertebrates
14. Emil Stiuca, Alexandru Petculescu: Hyena, Wolves and Foxes from the Pestera cu Oase
15. Alexandru Petculescu: Small Mammal Remains from the Pestera cu Oase
16. Simon A. Parfitt, Adrian M. Lister: The Ungulates from the Pestera cu Oase
17. Erik Trinkaus, Martina Pacher: Taphonomic Considerations of the Non-Ursid Vertebrate Remains
18. Erik Trinkaus, Michael P. Richards: Stable Isotopes and Dietary Patterns of the Faunal Species from the Pestera cu Oase
V. The Human Remains
19. Erik Trinkaus: Radiocarbon Dating of the Pestera cu Oase Human Remains
20. Erik Trinkaus, H.lSne Rougier: The Human Mandible from the Pestera cu Oase, Oase 1
21. Erik Trinkaus, H.lSne Rougier: The Human Cranium from the Pestera cu Oase, Oase 2
22. H.lSne Rougier,Sheela Athreya: Frontal Bone Contours of the Oase 2 Cranium
23. Marcia Ponce de Le¢n, Christoph P. E. Zollikofer: The Internal Cranial Morphology of Oase 2
24. Erik Trinkaus, Shara E. Bailey, H.lSne Rougier: The Dental and Alveolar Remains of Oase 1 and 2
25. Michael P. Richards, Erik Trinkaus: The Oase 1 Human Stable Isotopes
VI. Discussion
26. Silviu Constantin, JoÙo ZilhÙo, Erik Trinkaus: The Paleoenvironmental Context of the Pestera cu Oase
27. Erik Trinkaus, JoÙo ZilhÙo: Paleoanthropological Implications of the Pestera cu Oase and its Contents
VII. References

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Erik Trinkaus is a Professor of Anthropology at Washington University, who has been analyzing the late archaic and early modern fossil human remains since his doctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania. He is concerned primarily with the changes in human biology that reflect the emergence of modern humans. Silviu Constantin is a geologist and senior researcher at the "Emil Racovita" Institute of Spelology. His research covers all aspects of physical speleology and karst geology with a special interest on U/Th dating of carbonates, analysis of sedimentary sequences in caves and paleoclimate reconstructions based on speleothems. João Zilhão is an archaeologist, currently ICREA Research Professor at the University of Barcelona. His excavation and investigation work have primarily concerned the fate of the Neandertals, the origins of art and symbolic behavior, and the emergence of farming.

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Special Features

  • Previously unpublished data and interpretations.
  • Core data and interpretations for Pleistocene cave bears.
  • Contribution to the Pleistocene geology of southeastern Europe.
  • Core data for modern human origins.