One of the most turbulent periods in Earth's history that produced profound changes in the dynamics and evolution of species (including humans) was the Pleistocene, known as Ice Age (ca. 2.6 million to 11.500 years ago).
Ice Age high climatic fluctuations, and succession of glacial and interglacial cycles, resulted in species migration, a process that shaped both genetic diversity and distribution patterns on large scale (Hewitt, 2000).
The study of climate oscillations during the Pleistocene is of paramount concern since it relates these oscillations with present climatic conditions. The impact of the Pleistocene climatic fluctuations on some large mammals was dramatic, leading to their extinction (e.g., woolly mammoths, woolly rhinoceros, cave bears) (Hofreiter, 2007). Previous studies on extinct Pleistocene megafauna attempted to explain species’ responses to environmental change through the palaeodietary reconstruction approach (e.g. Robu et al., 2018).
However, this raises 3 main questions regarding the evolution of species in contrast with climate variability:
Do the changes in paleodiet have an evolutionary background?
The habitat plasticity under climate stress could imprint certain paleodiet trends?
The extinction of some species is related to particular causes or triggered by environmental changes as a response to climatic events?
One way to answer these questions is the interdisciplinary research on Pleistocene continental deposits. To this extent, cave sediments (fossil remains, speleothems and sediments) are highly significant being one of the best preserved continental sedimentary records, as they can be found underground, undisturbed from the effect of erosion, acting as climate archives.