1. Evolutionary Biology
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A multidisciplinary approach to a unique Palaeolithic human ichnological record from Italy (Bàsura Cave)

  1. Marco Romano  Is a corresponding author
  2. Paolo Citton
  3. Isabella Salvador
  4. Daniele Arobba
  5. Ivano Rellini
  6. Marco Firpo
  7. Fabio Negrino
  8. Marta Zunino
  9. Elisabetta Starnini
  10. Marco Avanzini
  1. University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
  2. CONICET-Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Argentina
  3. MUSE, Museo delle Scienze, Italy
  4. Museo Archeologico del Finale, Italy
  5. Università degli Studi di Genova, Italy
  6. Grotte di Toirano, Italy
  7. Università di Pisa, Italy
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Cite this article as: eLife 2019;8:e45204 doi: 10.7554/eLife.45204

Abstract

Based on the integration of laser scans, sedimentology, geochemistry, archeobotany, geometric morphometrics and photogrammetry, here we present evidence testifying that a Palaeolithic group of people explored a deep cave in northern Italy about 14 ky cal. BP. Ichnological data enable us to shed light on individual and group level behavior, social relationship, and mode of exploration of the uneven terrain. Five individuals, two adults, an adolescent and two children, entered the cave barefoot and illuminated the way with a bunch of wooden sticks. Traces of crawling locomotion are documented for the first time in the global human ichnological record. Anatomical details recognizable in the crawling traces show that no clothing was present between limbs and the trampled sediments. Our study demonstrates that very young children (the youngest about three years old) were active members of the Upper Palaeolithic populations, even in apparently dangerous and social activities.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Marco Romano

    Evolutionary Studies Institute (ESI), School of Geosciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
    For correspondence
    marco.romano@uniroma1.it
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-7629-3872
  2. Paolo Citton

    CONICET-Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, General Roca, Argentina
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-6503-5541
  3. Isabella Salvador

    Department of Geology and Palaeontology, MUSE, Museo delle Scienze, Trento, Italy
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-1058-3994
  4. Daniele Arobba

    Museo Archeologico del Finale, Savona, Italy
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-6946-7579
  5. Ivano Rellini

    Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, dell'Ambiente e della Vita (DISTAV), Università degli Studi di Genova, Genoa, Italy
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  6. Marco Firpo

    Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, dell'Ambiente e della Vita (DISTAV), Università degli Studi di Genova, Genoa, Italy
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  7. Fabio Negrino

    Dipartimento di Antichità, Filosofia e Storia (DAFIST), Università degli Studi di Genova, Genoa, Italy
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  8. Marta Zunino

    Grotte di Toirano, Toirano, Italy
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  9. Elisabetta Starnini

    Dipartimento di Civiltà e Forme del Sapere, Università di Pisa, Pisa, Italy
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  10. Marco Avanzini

    Department of Geology and Palaeontology, MUSE, Museo delle Scienze, Trento, Italy
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Funding

Comune di Toirano

  • Elisabetta Starnini

Università di Genova

  • Ivano Rellini
  • Marco Firpo
  • Fabio Negrino

MUSE

  • Isabella Salvador
  • Marco Avanzini

The funders provide financial assistence for fieldwork and publication fees

Reviewing Editor

  1. Jessica C. Thompson, Yale University, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: January 15, 2019
  2. Accepted: May 5, 2019
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: May 14, 2019 (version 1)

Copyright

© 2019, Romano et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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