Macromammalian faunas, biochronology and palaeoecology of the early Pleistocene Main Quarry hominin-bearing deposits of the Drimolen Palaeocave System, South Africa
- Authors: Adams, Justin, W. , Rovinsky, Douglass, S. , Herries, Andy I.R. , Menter, Colin, G.
- Date: 2016
- Subjects: Chasmaporthetes , Paranthropus , Megantereon
- Language: English
- Type: Article
- Identifier: http://hdl.handle.net/10210/92124 , uj:20191 , Citation: Adams, J.W. et al. 2016. Macromammalian faunas, biochronology and palaeoecology of the early Pleistocene Main Quarry hominin-bearing deposits of the Drimolen Palaeocave System, South Africa.
- Description: Abstract: The Drimolen Palaeocave System Main Quarry deposits (DMQ) are some of the most prolific hominin and primate-bearing deposits in the Fossil Hominids of South Africa UNESCO World Heritage Site. Discovered in the 1990s, excavations into the DMQ have yielded a demographically diverse sample of Paranthropus robustus (including DNH 7, the most complete cranium of the species recovered to date), early Homo, Papio hamadryas robinsoni and Cercopithecoides williamsi. Alongside the hominin and primate sample is a diverse macromammalian assemblage, but prior publications have only provided a provisional species list and an analysis of the carnivores recovered prior to 2008. Here we present the first description and analysis of the non-primate macromammalian faunas from the DMQ, including all 826 taxonomically identifiable specimens catalogued from over two decades of excavation. We also provide a biochronological interpretation of the DMQ deposits and an initial discussion of local palaeoecology based on taxon representation.The current DMQ assemblage consists of the remains of minimally 147 individuals from 9 Orders and 14 Families of mammals. The carnivore assemblage described here is even more diverse than established in prior publications, including the identification of Megantereon whitei, Lycyaenops silberbergi, and first evidence for the occurrence of Dinofelis cf. barlowi and Dinofelis aff. piveteaui within a single South African site deposit. The cetartiodactyl assemblage is dominated by bovids, with the specimen composition unique in the high recovery of horn cores and dominance of Antidorcas recki remains. Other cetartiodactyl and perissodactyl taxa are represented by few specimens, as are Hystrix and Procavia; the latter somewhat surprisingly so given their common occurrence at penecontemporaneous deposits in the region. Equally unusual (particularly given the size of the sample) is the identification of single specimens of giraffoid, elephantid and aardvark (Orycteropus cf. afer) that are rarely recovered from regional site deposits. Despite the diversity within the DMQ macromammalian faunas, there are few habitat- or biochronologically-sensitive species that provide specific ecologic or age boundaries for the deposits...
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The first hominin from the early pleistocene paleocave of haasgat , South Africa
- Authors: Leece, A. B. , Kegley, Anthony D. T. , Lacruz, Rodrigo S. , Herries, Andy I. R. , Hemingway, Jason , Kgasi, Lazarus , Potze, Stephany , Adams, Justin W.
- Date: 2016
- Subjects: Paranthropus , Australopithecus , Homo
- Language: English
- Type: Article
- Identifier: http://hdl.handle.net/10210/225429 , uj:22767 , Citation: Leece, A.B. et al. 2016. The first hominin from the early pleistocene paleocave of haasgat, South Africa. PeerJ, 4:1-18. DOI: 10.7717/peerj.2024.
- Description: Abstract: Haasgat is a primate-rich fossil locality in the northeastern part of the Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here we report the first hominin identified from Haasgat, a partial maxillary molar (HGT 500), that was recovered from an ex situ calcified sediment block sampled from the locality. The in situ fossil bearing deposits of the Haasgat paleokarstic deposits are estimated to date to slightly older than 1.95 Ma based on magnetobiostratigraphy. This places the hominin specimen at a critical time period in South Africa that marks the last occurrence of Australopithecus around 1.98 Ma and the first evidence of Paranthropus and Homo in the region between â‡ 2.0 and 1.8 Ma. A comprehensive morphological eval! uation of the Haasgat hominin molar was conducted against the current South African catalogue of hominin dental remains and imaging analyses using micro-CT, electron and confocal microscopy. The preserved occlusal morphology is most similar to Australopithecus africanus or early Homo specimens but different from Paranthropus. Occlusal linear enamel thickness measured from micro-CT scans provides an average of â‡ 2.0 mm consistent with Australopithecus and early Homo. Analysis of the enamel microstructure suggests an estimated periodicity of 7â€“9 days. Hunterâ€“Schreger bands appear long and straight as in some Paranthropus, but contrast with this genus in the short shape of the striae of Retzius. Taken together, these data suggests that the maxillary fragment recovered from Haasgat best fits within the Australopithecusâ€”early Homo hypodigms to the exclusion of the genus Paranthropus. At â‡ 1.95 Ma this specimen would either represent another example of late occurring Australopith! ecus or one of the earliest examples of Homo in the region. While the identification of this first hominin specimen from Haasgat is not unexpected given the composition of other South African penecontemporaneous site deposits, it represents one of the few hominin localities in the topographically- distinct northern World Heritage Site. When coupled with the substantial differences in the mammalian faunal communities between the northern localities (e.g., Haasgat, Gondolin) and well-sampled Bloubank Valley sites (e.g., Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai), the recovery of the HGT 500 specimen highlights the potential for further research at the Haasgat locality for understanding the distribution and interactions of hominin populations across the landscape, ecosystems and fossil mammalian communities of early Pleistocene South Africa. Such contextual data from sites like Haasgat is critical for understanding the transition in hominin representation at â‡ 2 Ma sites in the region from Australopithecus to Paranthropus and early Homo.
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