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The Snowy Owl (Bubo Scandiacus)

Climate change is in everyone's mind these days but we forget how much change there has been in the past. The remains of birds inside Gorham's, Vanguard and other caves associated with the Neanderthals, reveal a hidden world. The snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus) is today a bird of the Arctic tundra.

There are no historical records of this species anywhere in the Iberian Peninsula, not even in the north. Yet we find the remains of this beautiful owl inside Gorham's Cave, going back 30-50 thousand years ago. This was a period of intense cold when the tundra reached as far south as France and northern Spain. In response, these birds shifted south and they reached as far as the Rock. There was no tundra on the Rock but these birds would have been pushed south into coastal habitats in winter, just as they do today in North America, where they would have been at home hunting rodents on the dunes.

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