The song of the bison It is his fifth novel about Prehistory. Are you particularly attracted to this period of humanity?
Prehistory is my passion, but at the end of the nineties I had the great luck of knowing and becoming a personal friend of the discoverers of Atapuerca, Juan Luis Arsuaga, José María Bermúdez de Castro Y Eudald Carbonell Roura. and I have always had privileged information. The five novels I have written have a strong feeling for my passion for nature and for that primal world as well. And I used some magical and mythical scenarios in the cave of Nublares, The son of the Heron and the last hunter, as well as with The look of the wolf, where the man and this animal make an alliance very different from that of other species, and the wolf becomes his companion to pass the glaciation. And there I thought I was going to leave it, but I had outlined the issue of the Neanderthals in Nublares, and I was encouraged by the discoveries that were taking place in the Iberian Peninsula, which is the last great refuge of the last species.
And what are those discoveries more specifically?
The Neanderthals are retreating through Europe and ending up in the south of the Iberian Peninsula. It was because of the last glaciation 30,000 years ago that they are pushed towards the southernmost areas. The discoveries that I have outlined here arise from a site very close to Madrid where the total verification of its full humanity has appeared through an authentic sanctuary. There is a cave where there are three dozen ritual games with offerings of herbivores and the fossil of a three-year-old girl, redhead and with freckles. We know more about their beliefs, their fears, their first artistic expressions, their social organization and the role of men and women in the daily and inexorable struggle to survive among bison, uros, rhinos, wolves and cave lions. The studies show how the Cro-Magnon and the Neanderthal had met, confronted and crossed because, as is already proven, in us there is something of Neanderthal. The Swedish professor Svante Pääbo It has sequenced the Neanderthal DNA, through the latest discoveries in the Sidrón cave in Asturias, and it is said that a minimum 4% of the genes of the Eurasian population, which is where this emigration occurs, have that Neanderthal origin. Pääbo believes that much more.
Is there then a new vision of these ancestors?
True, and this is a novel that wants to explain how was the extinction of the other species to which I have immense respect and that, more than cousins, are our brothers. That's why I say that the Cantabrian cornice, where all that enormous explosion of art is like the caves of Altamira, Del Castillo, La Moneda, etc., was the Manhattan of the Paleolithic. And to consider as beast or backward the genius that painted Altamira is very foolish scientifically. It is believed, in addition that who makes those horses, bison, and other hunting sets, is always the same hand. It is also known that they already used up the penicillin fungus.
If the Neandertals were smarter how did they become extinct and not the Cro-Magnons?
First because they were considerably less. And because the glaciation was atrocious. It was supporting minus 25 degrees and making life terribly difficult. You could only live practically by the sea and on very low coasts. Childbirth was probably the most terrible cause of death at that time. The Neanderthals had great spears and lashed out with them. The Cro-Magnon had simply got a wood with an eyelash that allowed it the advantage of killing from a distance. They are also more sedentary and sapiens was more mobile.
Why have you put it as a title The song of the bison?
Practically, what appears continuously in the Paleolithic, in many of the cave paintings, is the bison. And then in Atapuerca, it is documented that the first thing we know is a bison hunt. There was a magical idea of these animals.
What was the daily life like between men and women?
One element is the equality of sexes in the Paleolithic. Many times we find the topical image of the Prehistory of man pulling the hairs on the woman who does not correspond with the scientist. And if there is a moment in the history of mankind where there is a prevalence and a female domain is the Paleolithic because it is who marks the lineage. The first cult of humanity is the mother goddess and the first thing we have in art are the statuettes of the great mystery of life. And this happened in the longest period of human existence because the Paleolithic covers 99% of it. History is sometimes spoken of as the last 8,000 years. And then what do we do with the previous 192,000?