Coulet des Roches is a natural karst trap in Southern France. Its infilling dates back to the end of the Pleniglacial (Last Glacial Maximum, LGM) and the end of the Tardiglacial (Last Glacial, LG). Three mustelid species have been identified in this infilling: the common polecat (Mustela putorius
, minimum number of individuals (MNI) = 4), the stoat (Mustela erminea
, MNI = 14) and the weasel (Mustela nivalis
, MNI = 48). The common polecat remains are metrically and morphologically indistinguishable from recent European specimens. The smallest mustelids are mainly represented by average-sized specimens, which are slightly smaller than extant species. A partial weasel skeleton of an extremely small pygmy weasel, regarded as a typical glacial element, was also discovered. Sexual dimorphism is strongly pronounced. Seventeen horses have been identified, corresponding to the chrono subspecies Equus ferus gallicus
. The analysis of the muzzles and metapodials shows overall adaptation to cool and dry weather conditions. The ibexes are typical of Capra ibex
(MNI = 15). The p3 morphology is similar to the LGM populations located on the southern side of the Durance River, with an important dilation of the metaconid, except for the oldest LGM specimen. This dilation is older on the southern side of the Durance River, as it occurs at the end of MIS 3. This difference could reflect the barrier role of the Durance River. Micromammals are abundant (mostly related to rodents and shrews; 18 genera/species; MNI = 470). The paleoecological study highlighted important and rapid climatic and environmental fluctuations throughout the sequence. As a result of climatic fluctuations, the plains constituted a corridor for the migration of temperate species to Provence during cold periods (“southern refuge zone”) and their re-immigration to Western Europe during temperate episodes. In a related and complementary way, the highland areas not only played a natural role as a geographical barrier, but also constituted a refuge zone during interglacial episodes for some micromammal species originating from northern and eastern parts of Europe (“cryptic southern refugia”).
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