Paleoclimatic inference of the mid-Holocene record of monk seal (Monachus monachus) in the Cantabrian Coast

A. B. Marín, M. R. González-Morales, J. Estévez

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The mid-Holocene has been widely used to test the performance of the numerical models that are commonly employed to estimate the future evolution of world climate. This period, as the pollen record shows, was characterized by higher temperatures than present in northern and Central Europe, while cooler conditions occurred in the south of the continent. This pattern is challenging numeric algorithms that widely fail to replicate the paleoclimate data of southern Europe. Here we report the discovery of a fragmented bone of a temperate water phocid (Monachus monachus) dated to 5540 ± 40. BP that was hunted and consumed on the Cantabrian Coast during that period. This find implies a hitherto unnoted phase of warm conditions associated with strengthened advention of subtropical waters to the region. As a consequence, the possibility that the oceanographic regime from that time in the Bay of Biscay was similar to the current one is reinforced, a fact that could modify our view of mid-Holocene climate in the Iberian Peninsula and have important implications in climate change studies. © 2010 The Geologists' Association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-124
JournalProceedings of the Geologists' Association
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


  • Cantabrian Coast
  • Climate change
  • Mid-Holocene
  • Monk seal


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