New interpretation of the Gran Dolina-TD6 bearing Homo antecessor deposits through sedimentological analysis
Gran Dolina is a cavity infilled by at least 25 m of Pleistocene sediments. This sequence contains the TD6 stratigraphic unit, whose records include around 170 hominin bones that have allowed the definition of a new species, Homo antecessor. This fossil accumulation was studied as a single assemblage and interpreted as a succession of several human home bases. We propose a complete stratigraphic context and sedimentological interpretation for TD6, analyzing the relationships between the sedimentary facies, the clasts and archaeo-palaeontological remains. The TD6 unit has been divided into three sub-units and 13 layers. Nine sedimentary facies have been defined. Hominin remains appear related to three different sedimentary facies: debris flow facies, channel facies and floodplain facies. They show three kinds of distribution: first a group of scattered fossils, then a group with layers of fossils in fluvial facies, and third a group with a layer of fossils in mixed fluvial and gravity flow facies. The results of this work suggest that some of these hominin remains accumulated in the cave by geological processes, coming from the adjacent slope above the cave or the cave entry, as the palaeogeography and sedimentary characteristics of these allochthonous facies suggest.