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Tautavel man

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File:Carte Neandertaliens anciens.jpg
Map Showing sites of the Tautavel Man. The darker colored areas of the map show where glaciers where.
The skull found.

Tautavel man is the name of an extinct hominian. They lived about 300.000-450.000 years ago.[1],[2],[3] It is named after fossils found in a cave on the site named Caune de l'Arago, near Tautavel, France. The first fossils were found there in 1971. The fossils date from between 300.000 and 450.000 years ago. They consist of over 80 fragments; the skull found (pictured) belonged to a man in his twenties. He was about 1.65 m, and weighted around 45–55 kg. Other remains are two mandibles, belonging to a woman in her fifties, and to a man, about 20–25 years old. It looks like they did not know how to use fire yet. It also looks like they might have been cannibals, or that they preferred to scavenge for food, rather than hunt. Bones of rhinoceros, horses, wild sheep (called Mouflon), Tahrs (resemble wild goats), Muskox (some kind of bovine), deer, and reindeer have been found in the cave.

There is an ongoing debate if this hominid is directly related to the Neanderthal. If they are not, they would be Homines erecti.[4] If they are direct predecessors of the Neanderthals, they would be Homo heidelbergensis.[5][6] It has been proposed to classify them as Homo erectus Tautavelensis.


  1. Lumley, H. de, Lumley, M.-A. de, Bada, J.L. et Turekian, K.K. (1977) - « The dating of the Pre-Neandertal remains at Caune de l'Arago, Tautavel, Pyrénées-Orientales, France », Journal of Human Evolution, 6, pp. 223-224.
  2. Lumley, H. de, Fournier, A., Park, Y.C., Yokoyama, Y. et Demouy, A. (1984) - « Stratigraphie du remplissage pléistocène moyen de la Caune de l'Arago à Tautavel - Étude de huit carrotages effectués de 1981 à 1983 », L'Anthropologie, t. 88, n° 1, pp. 5-18.
  3. Lebel, S. (1992) - « Mobilité des hominidés et système technique d'exploitation des ressources au Paléolithique ancien : la Caune de l'Arago (France) », Canadian Journal of Archaeology, vol. 16, pp. 48-69.
  4. Lumley, M.-A. de (1982) - « L'homme de Tautavel. Critères morphologiques et stade évolutif », in: Datations absolues et analyses isotopiques en préhistoire, méthods et limites, Lumley, H. de et Labeyrie, J., (Éds.), Colloque international du CNRS, Tautavel, 22-29 juin 1981, pp. 259-264.
  5. Farizy, C. et Vandermeersch, B. (1988) - « Arago (Caune de l'), Tautavel, Pyrénées-Orientales », in: Dictionnaire de la Préhistoire, Leroi-Gourhan, A., (Éd.), PUF, pp. 56-57.
  6. Hublin, J.-J. « Origine et évolution des Néandertaliens », in Aux origines de l'humanité, vol. 1, Y. Coppens et P. Picq (dir.), Fayard, (2001)