Senckenberg Research








Tübingen, 23.07.2015

„It must be a woman“
Researchers from the University of Tübingen present fragments of a new female figurine from Hohle Fels Cave at the Urgeschichtlichen Museum Blaubeuren

New Venus fragments from Hohle Fels?Archaeologists, Prof. Nicholas Conard and his team member Maria Malina, present the discovery of two fragments of a new female figurine in today‘s edition of the journal: Archäologische Ausgrabungen Baden-Württemberg. The figurine shows similarities with the well-known Venus from Hohle Fels that Prof. Conard published in 2009. [more...]

 1) The carved and engraved mammoth ivory fragments from Hohle Fels Cave. 2) Reconstruction of how the new finds fit in relation to the female figurine from 2008. Figure: M. Malina/University of Tübingen


Tübingen, 08.06.2015

Giant deers were still present in Southern Germany after the Ice Age
Tübingen scientists reconstruct the DNA of the Megaloceros from findings in caves in the Swabian Alb and discover possible causes for its later extinction
WG Palaeogenetics

The mass extinction at the end of the last Ice Age led to the disappearance of many animal species including the mammoth, the woolly rhinoceros, cave bears and the Megaloceros, also known as the giant deer or Irish elk, which could weigh as much as 1.5 tons. Scientists Megalocerosstill do not fully know the precise reasons for the extinction of many species; it probably took place due to a combination of climate change and hunting by humans. However, some species of animals survived the end of the last glacial period somewhat longer than others. They include the giant deer, which populated huge areas of Eurasia during the Ice Age. These animals were still present in parts of north-western Europe after the Ice Age, before they finally disappeared about 7,000 years ago. Scientists at the University of Tübingen have now managed to isolate mitochondrial genomes (mtDNA) from deer bones found in the Swabian Alb that are 12,000 years old which sheds light on how prevalent these animals were in southern Germany.

Skeleton of a giant deer. Photo: Cosimo Posth


Tübingen, 31.03.2015

What 300,000 year old eggshells reveal about the environment of the Palaeolithic
The nesting site of whooper swans on the banks of a former lake in Schoningen
WG Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology

Eggshell from SchöningenIn the 1990s the discovery of the oldest completely preserved wooden hunting weapons made the Palaeolithic excavation site in Schöningen internationally renowned. Scientists from the Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment Tübingen and colleagues from Halle-Wittenberg and Hannover identified eggshell remains from various species of birds. The systematic evaluation of these eggshells within the next years will help to achieve significant contributions to the reconstruction of the climatic conditions during this interglacial period as well as new insights into the behaviour of migratory birds and the human diet 300,000 years ago.


Fragment of a 300,000 year old eggshell from a whooper swan on top of an intact modern day egg belonging to this species. Photo: Jordi Serangeli


Tübingen, 13.02.2015

The European Bison Did Not Dwell In The Forest
Conservation concepts for living bisons must be revised
WG Biogeology

European Biosn in Białowieża (Poland)  © Tomasz Kamiński

Together with colleagues from Germany and Poland, palaeontologist Prof. Dr. Hervé Bocherens of the Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment (HEP) and the Department of Geosciences at the University of Tübingen examined the oldest known bones of bison from Europe. Their research revealed that European Bison were “mixed eaters” who preferred open landscapes to a life in the forest. These findings have a direct impact on the current conservation concept for these animals, which are threatened with extinction. The associated study was financed by the Polish National Science Centre (grant no N N304 301940) and published today in the renowned scientific journal PLOS ONE. [more...]

European Biosn in Białowieża (Poland)  © Tomasz Kamiński

News release of the University of Tübingen


Tübingen, 16.12.2014

Ice Age hunters decimated mammoth populations 30,000 years ago
Tübingen researchers show climate and food supplies were stable – humans caused big herbivores to die out
WG Biogeology

Researchers from the University of Tübingen and the Senckenberg Nature Research Society say hunting by humans appears significantly cut mammoth populations in western Europe around 30,000 years ago. The researchers analyzed bones, teeth and mammoth ivory from the Gravettian era (30,500 - 22,000 years ago) to show that climate conditions as well as food and water supplies for these giant herbivores remained stable. Yet the study, led by biogeologist Dr. Dorothée G. Drucker and published in “Quaternary International,” shows that their numbers declined.

News release of the University of Tübingen


Tübingen, 11.12.2014

DFG backs new Tübingen humanities research center
€ 2.7 millon for interdisciplinary research into early mankind, studying words, bones, genes, and tools from 30,000 to 3,000 years ago.
WG Palaeoanthropology

The unit will seek to fill a gap in our knowledge of early human history. The early phase of modern humans, 100,000 to 40,000 years ago, has been studied in detail in the fields of archaeology, paleoanthropology and genetics. Yet historical linguistic studies have so far examined a period of 5,000 to 10,000 years ago at most. How did humans develop in the intervening time – from 30,000 to 3,000 years ago? The new research center aims to shed light on this period via interdisciplinary collaboration between the fields of linguistics, paleoanthropology, archaeology and genetics. New developments in each of these disciplines now make it possible to work together effectively in this area.

News release of the University of Tübingen