25 February 2016
WHILST Gibraltar likes to refer to itself as the ‘cradle of history’, recent papers published in the Quaternary International journal and complied by the Gibraltar Museum and collaborating scientists do suggest that Gibraltar has played a very important part in mankind’s development and the proof may be found in its range of caves.
It has long been recognised that with no less than 151 species of birds identified in fossil material found in the caves, Gibraltar is probably the site with the largest number of bird species in the world dating back between 100,000 and 125,000 years.
Recent publications have shown how Neanderthals exploited birds for food but also for their feathers. Now, the new papers add to this wealth of ground-breaking information.
The first paper uses the rich avifauna in
to test the environmental quality of the site. It compares Gibraltar with
another Neanderthal site – Zafarraya in .
Despite the relative proximity of the two sites they differed dramatically in
environmental quality as judged by the species of birds in each site. Malaga
When compared to the 151 species from
Zafarraya had only 35 but the difference according to the scientists is not
just in numbers but also in species found. The birds in Zafarraya were mainly
cliff nesting species whilst, Gibraltar had
the same cliff nesters but also species from wetlands, woodland, open plains
and the coast.