A taphonomic and systematic study of an assemblage of large mammals preserved in an early Upper Pleistocene deposit in Imanolen Arrobia (Deba, northern Spain) is hereby reported. Skeletal profiles, long bone fragmentation and tooth marks reveal that carnivores transported wild goats and chamois carcasses to the cave for their consumption. The abundance of juvenile remains suggests that these carnivores preferentially preyed on immature individuals. After considering the frequencies of different carnivores in the assemblage and other taphonomic and neo-taphonomic features and, even though the wolf (Canis lupus) cannot be completely discarded, the leopard (Panthera pardus) is proposed as the plausible responsible for the hunting and transport of the ungulate remains to the cave. The bones were subsequently probably modified by foxes (Vulpes vulpes) that used the cave as a breeding den. By way of comparative data from the Cantabrian region and especially from the Basque Country, a metric study drawing comparisons between the most frequent species (Capra pyrenaica, Rupicapra pyrenaica, Panthera pardus and Vulpes vulpes) evinces that the Imanolen Arrobia measurements are within the range of variation of fossil species in the northern Iberian Peninsula.
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Vol. 54 • No. 4