The shell midden of Pico Ramos and the exploitation of molluscs in the Cantabrian region (northern Spain)
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ABSTRACT: Human groups exploited molluscs during the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition (MNT) at Pico Ramos. Results show that the most exploited species were limpets and topshells collected in rocky open shores, while other species were collected in estuaries. Therefore, different environments were exploited by human groups. This pattern is related to the location of the cave in the mouth of the estuary. The exploitation pattern suggests that collection was carried out in several short visits to the cave. The characteristics of the accumulation also fit the pattern of intensification identified in the region, which show that molluscs were important for human groups during the Mesolithic and the early Neolithic. However, it is difficult to establish if Pico Ramos was used by hunter-gatherers resisting the introduction of agriculture and domestication, or if on the contrary it was a specialized site used by food producers for hunting-fishing-gathering activities.