The lentic Basommatophora molluscs and hygrophilous land snails of the Early-Middle Pleistocene site of Gesher Benot Ya'aqov (GBY), 0.78 Ma, crossed by the Matuyama-Brunhes chron boundary [MBB] were studied in order to reconstruct their specific habitats and possible reactions to climate change along the site sequence. Samples of equal sizes from 27 of the 46 layers along the 100 k.yr. time-span of the site were examined. About 2000 specimens of 21 lentic and hygrophilous species belonging to five families: Planorbidae (11), Lymnaeidae (6), Acroloxidae (2), Carychiidae (1) and Succineidae (1) were identified. The family with the largest biodiversity is the Planorbidae and of these, the most abundant species include Gyraulus piscinarum (937), Planorbarius corneus (210) and Radix labiata (160). The recent known zoogeographic origin of 81% of the species is Palaearctic and Holarctic. The MBB coincides with remarkable environmental changes reflected in molluscs, other faunal and floral elements and stable isotopes. The Planorbidae and Lymnaeidae reach greater abundance (90% and 80% of their assemblages, respectively) pre-MBB, while Acroloxidae, Succineidae and Carychiidae are more abundant (74%, 64% and 90%) post-MBB. Our data indicate that GBY molluscs show a two-phase pattern (shallow and deep lake) in each of the five defined cycles. Their numbers increase during the shallow water phases, thus the site climate changes from cold and humid in the oldest layers, to dry and cold up to the MBB and few succeeding layers. Between cycles 2 and 3, post-MBB, we see a short period of warm and humid climate that enables the influx of African and Asian elements. At the same time, cold climate species of Euro-Siberian and Palaearctic origin disappear. The succeeding layers indicate a cooler and humid climate. Finally, the sequence indicates deep water in the oldest layers and desiccation towards MBB and deeper water post-MBB.
Although the Neandertal locomotor system has been shown to differ from Homo sapiens, characteristics of Neandertal entheses, the skeletal attachments for muscles, tendons, ligaments and joint capsules, have never been specifically investigated. Here, we analyse lower limb entheses of the Krapina Neandertal bones (Croatia, 130,000 BP) with the aim of determining how they compare with modern humans, using a standard developed by our research group for describing modern human entheseal variability. The entheses examined are those of the gluteus maximus, iliopsoas and vastus medialis on the femur, the quadriceps tendon on the patella, and soleus on the tibia. For the entheses showing a different morphological pattern from H. sapiens, we discuss the possibility of recognising genetic versus environmental causes. Our results indicate that only the gluteus maximus enthesis (the gluteal tuberosity), falls out of the modern human range of variation. It displays morphological features that could imply histological differences from modern humans, in particular the presence of fibrocartilage. In both H. sapiens and the Krapina Neandertals, the morphological pattern of this enthesis is the same in adult and immature femurs. These results can be interpreted in light of genetic differences between the two hominins. The possibility of functional adaptations to higher levels of mechanical load during life in the Neandertals seems less likely. The particular morphology and large dimensions of the Krapina enthesis, and perhaps its fibrocartilaginous nature, could have been selected for in association with other pelvic and lower limb characteristics, even if genetic drift cannot be ruled out.
Reconstruction of early Pleistocene hominin carcass acquisition and processing behaviors are necessarily based at least in part on butchered fossil bones. This paper provides zooarchaeological and taphonomic analyses and behavioral interpretations of three approximately 1.5 million-year-old archaeofaunas from areas 1A and 103 in the Okote Member of the Koobi Fora Formation, northern Kenya: FwJj14A, FwJj14B, and GaJi14. These sites are all located in similar paleoenvironmental contexts, near shallow water with swampy, seasonally flooded areas, and some evidence for more wooded or gallery forest settings. Both individual specimen--and assemblage-level analyses of butchery-marked bones indicate that the hominins appear to have practiced similar butchery strategies at all of these sites, with butchery (defleshing, disarticulation, and marrow extraction) of both high- and low-ranked skeletal elements with no apparent preference for prey size, skeletal region, limb class, or limb portion. Only four tooth-marked specimens, including one likely crocodile-tooth-marked bone, are preserved in all three archaeofaunas. A paucity of limb epiphyses suggests that bone-crunching hyenids may have deleted these portions subsequent to hominin butchery. Strangely, there are no stone tools preserved with the 292 cut-marked and 27 percussion-marked faunal specimens (out of a total of 6,039 specimens), suggesting that raw material availability may have conditioned hominin lithic discard patterns at these locales. These assemblages increase our knowledge of the dietary behavior and ecology of Homo erectus, and provide support for variability in early Pleistocene hominin carcass foraging patterns.
The current archaeological data on early hominin subsistence activities in Africa are derived chiefly from Sub-Saharan Plio-Pleistocene sites. The recent studies at El-Kherba (Ain Hanech) in northeastern Algeria expand the geographic range of evidence of hominin subsistence patterns to include the earliest known archaeological sites documented in North Africa. Dated to 1.78 million years ago (Ma), excavations from El-Kherba yielded an Oldowan industry associated with a savanna-like fauna contained in floodplain deposits. The faunal assemblage is dominated by large and medium-sized animals (mainly adults), especially equids, which are represented by at least 11 individuals. The mammalian archaeofauna preserves numerous cut-marked and hammerstone-percussed bones. Made of primarily limestone and flint, the stone assemblage consists of core forms, débitage, and retouched pieces. Evidence of usewear traces is found on several of the flint artifacts, indicating meat processing by early hominins. Overall, our subsistence analysis indicates that early hominins were largely responsible for bone modification at the site, which is also corroborated by other relevant taphonomic evidence. Moreover, at 1.78 Ma, the cutmarked bones recovered from El-Kherba represent the earliest known evidence for ancestral hominin butchery activities and large animal foraging capabilities in northern Africa.
As part of ongoing research at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, to determine the detailed paleoenvironmental setting during Bed I and Bed II times and occupation of the basin by early hominins, we present the results of phytolith analyses of Tuff IF which is the uppermost unit of Bed I. Phytoliths were identified in most of the levels and localities on the eastern paleolake margin, but there are not always sufficient numbers of identifiable morphologies to infer the specific type of vegetation due to dissolution. Some surge surfaces and reworked tuff surfaces were vegetated between successive ash falls, as indicated by root-markings and the presence of a variety of phytolith morphotypes. Dicotyledonous wood/bark types were dominant except at the FLK N site just above Tuff IF when monocots are dominant and for the palm-dominated sample from the reworked channel cutting down into Tuff IF at FLK N. The area between the two fault scarps bounding the HWK Compartment, approximately 1 km wide, was vegetated at various time intervals between some of the surges and during the reworking of the Tuff. By lowermost Bed II times the eastern margin was fully vegetated again. Climate and tectonic activity probably controlled the fluctuating lake levels but locally the paleorelief and drainage were probably the controlling factors for the vegetation changes. These data support a scenario of small groups of hominins making brief visits to the paleolake during uppermost Bed I times, followed by a more desirable vegetative environment during lowermost Bed II times.
Since the discovery of the Homo sapiens crania from the Upper Cave of Zhoukoudian in northern China (UC 101, UC 102, and UC 103), no clear consensus has arisen regarding their affinities with modern populations. We use linear craniofacial measurements to compare UC 101 and UC 103 to a worldwide sample of H. sapiens that includes Paleoamericans and Archaic Indians, and employ Mahalanobis distance analysis and associated unweighted, unrestricted canonical variate analysis for the comparisons. Analyses indicate that UC 101 has consistent affinities with Easter Island and European populations, whereas UC 103 has more tenuous similarities with Australo-Melanesian groups. Both fossils exhibit some similarities to certain Paleoamerican and Archaic Indian individuals, but rarely cluster together. Upper Cave 103 is more of an outlier to modern populations than is UC 101. The fossils are not representative of any group to which they have been compared, but may be part of the generalized population that was ancestral to Paleoamericans.
Skin color is one of the most conspicuous ways in which humans vary and has been widely used to define human races. Here we present new evidence indicating that variations in skin color are adaptive, and are related to the regulation of ultraviolet (UV) radiation penetration in the integument and its direct and indirect effects on fitness. Using remotely sensed data on UV radiation levels, hypotheses concerning the distribution of the skin colors of indigenous peoples relative to UV levels were tested quantitatively in this study for the first time.
Site 8-B-11 at Sai Island in northern Sudan is a stratified site containing late Middle and early Upper Pleistocene occupation levels in excellent conditions of preservation. In Middle Pleistocene times, the banks of a small gully were repeatedly occupied by human groups leaving Acheulean and Sangoan material cultures in an interstratified pattern. Optical age determinations on aeolian intercalations within the gully sediments range between 220 and 150 ka. This sequence is truncated by Nile floodplain silts in which three occupation levels with Lupemban-related Nubian Complex assemblages (Van Peer, 1998) are stratified. The long archaeological sequence at 8-B-11 is a rare African case to document the Early to Middle Stone Age transition by means of primary context situations in direct stratigraphic super-position (Clark, 2001; Tryon & McBrearty, 2002). In contrast to the Acheulean, the early MSA Sangoan levels show sophisticated behaviours involving considerable technological and symbolic investment. Quartzite cobbles were used in the grinding of vegetal materials. Yellow and red ochre were exploited and ground to pigments using shaped mortars and selected chert nodules. We conclude that 8-B-11 is a key site with regard to the initial emergence of modern human behaviour outside subsaharan Africa (McBrearty Brooks, 2000).
Middle Stone Age (MSA) and Middle Paleolithic (MP) faunal assemblages have gained widespread attention due to their relevance to the debate over the modernity of hominid behavior during the MSA/MP. A recent critique of the scavenging argument for MSA/MP behavior drew on a summary presentation of the skeletal abundance and surface modification data from Die Kelders Cave 1 Layer 10 (Marean, 1998). This paper provides a more complete presentation of those data, adds the smaller Layer 11 sample, and provides a detailed analysis of the taphonomic history of both samples.Bone fragment density is higher in Layer 10 than in Layer 11. Bone densities vary horizontally as well, with Layer 10 showing greater deposition in the exposed areas of the cave. An analysis of long bone breakage patterns indicates that non-nutritive breakage on the Layers 10 and 11 samples was present but not intense. Size 1 mammals were predominantly accumulated by owls and/or other large raptors, not hominids, in Layer 10. Hominids were the predominant accumulator of Sizes 2-4 mammals in Layers 10 and 11 as indicated by the frequency of hammer-stone percussion marks and carnivore toothmarks. After discard by hominids, a significant portion of these remains were discovered and scavenged by carnivores. Overall, the larger mammal fauna of Layer 10 is dominated by Sizes 3 and 4 bovids, mostly young and adult eland, and thus hominids were focusing on the high-ranked prey items. Shaft portions of long bones, the portions with the most flesh, have the highest frequencies of cutmarks. A comparison of the Layers 10 and 11 cutmark frequencies to Selvaggio's (1998) scavenging model shows that the frequencies are significantly outside the range of variation documented in Selavaggio's scavenging sample.
The Iberomaurusian necropolis of Taforalt (Morocco, 11-12000 BP), excavated by Roche in the 1950s, contains 28 multiple graves. The funerary practices of the Taforalt population have been the focus of a previous work (Mariotti et al., 2009). In the absence of the excavation records of the necropolis, these funerary practices were investigated through the analysis of the contents of each grave and the distribution of intentionally modified specimens (ochre-dyeing, cut marks). Previous research has drawn particular attention to Grave XII (containing three male adults and two juveniles), where many intentionally modified specimens were identified. The present study focused specifically on the human remains recovered from Grave XII. Analysis of these remains has provided evidence of interventions, such as dismemberment and defleshing of the cadaver, and the use of ochre to colour the bones. Furthermore, the presence of lesions on two skulls suggests the possibility of intentional killing and cannibalism among the Taforalt population. This study further supports our previous impression of the complex and diversified funerary practices, characterising the social life of the Iberomaurusian population of Taforalt.
Conventional wisdom concerning the extinction of Paranthropus suggests that these species developed highly derived morphologies as a consequence of specializing on a diet consisting of hard and/or low-quality food items. It goes on to suggest that these species were so specialized or stenotopic that they were unable to adapt to changing environments in the period following 1.5 Ma. The same conventional wisdom proposes that early Homo species responded very differently to the same environmental challenges. Instead of narrowing their niche it was the dietary and behavioral flexibility (eurytopy) exhibited by early Homo that enabled that lineage to persist. We investigate whether evidence taken across eleven criteria supports a null hypothesis in which Paranthropus is more stenotopic than early Homo. In six instances (most categories of direct evidence of dietary breadth, species diversity, species duration, susceptibility to dispersal, dispersal direction, and non-dietary adaptations) the evidence is inconsistent with the hypothesis. Only one line of indirect evidence for dietary breadth-occlusal morphology-is unambiguously consistent with the null hypothesis that Paranthropus' ability to process tough, fibrous food items (e.g., leaves) was reduced relative to early Homo. Other criteria (habitat preference, population density, direct and indirect evidence of dietary breadth related to incisor use) are only consistent with the hypothesis under certain conditions. If those conditions are not met, then the evidence is either inconsistent with the hypothesis, or ambiguous. On balance, Paranthropus and early Homo were both likely to have been ecological generalists. These data are inconsistent with the conventional wisdom that stenotopy was a major contributing factor in the extinction of the Paranthropus clade. Researchers will need to explore other avenues of research in order to generate testable hypotheses about the demise of Paranthropus. Ecological models that may explain the evolution of eurytopy in early hominins are discussed.
Geological data from the Bura Hasuma region at Koobi Fora provide important constraints for estimating the ages of hominin fossils recovered there, including the cranium KNM-ER 1813. Strata of the upper Burgi, KBS, and Okote members in this part of Koobi Fora reflect three depositional regimes driven by changing paleogeography through time. The upper Burgi and lowermost KBS sequence in the southern Bura Hasuma region accumulated in a lacustrine to delta front setting, with highly localized depositional patterns, limiting the lateral extent of lithostratigraphic markers. Farther north, uppermost upper Burgi through KBS member strata document a fluctuating lake margin, with complex facies patterns. This interval is marked by laterally extensive lithostratigraphic markers, including molluscan packstones, beach sandstones, and stromatolite beds. The uppermost KBS and Okote members show a transition to dominantly fluvial character, with localized and discontinuous accumulation.
Recent geologic study shows that all hominins and nearly all other published mammalian fossils from Paleontological Collection Area 123, Koobi Fora, Kenya, derive from levels between the KBS Tuff (1.87+/-0.02 Ma) and the Lower Ileret Tuff (1.53+/-0.01 Ma). More specifically, the fossils derive from 53 m of section below the Lower Ileret Tuff, an interval in which beds vary markedly laterally, especially those units containing molluscs and algal stromatolites. The upper Burgi Member (approximately 2.00-1.87 Ma) crops out only in the southwestern part of Area 123. Adjacent Area 110 contains larger exposures of the member, and there the KBS Tuff is preserved as an airfall ash in lacustrine deposits and also as a fluvially redeposited ash. We observed no mammalian fossils in situ in this member in Area 123, but surface specimens have been documented in some monographic treatments. Fossil hominins from Area 123 were attributed to strata above the KBS Tuff in the 1970s, but later they were assigned to strata below the KBS Tuff (now called the upper Burgi Member). This study definitively places the Area 123 hominins in the KBS Member. Most of these hominins are between 1.60 and 1.65 myr in age, but the youngest may date to only 1.53 Ma, and the oldest, to 1.75 Ma. All are 0.15-0.30 myr younger than previously estimated. The new age estimates, in conjunction with published taxonomic attributions of fossils, suggest that at least two species of Homo coexisted in the region along with A. boisei until at least 1.65 Ma. Comparison of crania KNM-ER 1813 and KNM-ER 1470, which were believed to be of comparable age, is at the focus of the debate over whether Homo habilis sensu lato is in fact composed of two species: Homo habilis and Homo rudolfensis. These two crania are separated in time by approximately 0.25 myr, and therefore, arguments for their conspecificity no longer need to confront the issue of unusually high contemporaneous variation within a single species.
An engraved block from the cave of Abauntz is interpreted as a Magdalenian map in which the actual surrounding landscape, including mountains, rivers, and ponds, is represented. Some possible routes or avenues of access to different parts of the geography are also engraved on the landscape. The engraving seems to reproduce the meandering course of a river crossing the upper part of side A of the block, joined by two tributaries near two mountains. One of these is identical to the mountain that can be seen from the cave, with herds of ibex depicted on its hillsides, on both sides of the gorge in front of which the cave of Abauntz is strategically located. In the southern part of the gorge, there is a completely flat area where the watercourses slow down, forming meanders and flooding in springtime. The following elements are also represented on the block: tangles of concentric strokes and bundles of lines forming very marked meanders. In short, all of these engravings could be a sketch or a simple map of the area around the cave. It could represent the plan for a coming hunt or perhaps a narrative story of one that had already happened. This paper is provided in the context of recent discussions on early modern human capacities of spatial awareness, planning, and organized hunting.
Unretouched convergent flakes are frequently a well represented tool type in many Middle Stone Age (MSA) assemblages. Damage to the lateral margins of these points is frequent; however, analytical methods for dealing with the frequency and distribution of edge damage on points have not been developed and applied to a complete MSA lithic assemblage. A method for using GIS to quantify edge damage and statistically analyze the relative location and frequency of edge damage is presented here and applied to the complete assemblage of MSA points from Pinnacle Point Cave 13B (PP13B), South Africa. The results indicate a frequency of edge damage consistent with heavier utilization of the dorsal surface over the ventral surface, and the left side over the right, with the dorsal left lateral margin being most heavily damaged. Additionally, the distribution of edge damage and low frequency of impact damage to the points suggest that PP13B represents a location where points were used for cutting activities and discarded. Applying the recording procedures advocated here to controlled edge damage replication experiments will help provide the interpretive linkages to site assemblage edge damage distributions.
An understanding of site taphonomy is crucial to stratigraphic and artifact/ecofact interpretation. Numerous geogenic, biogenic, and anthropogenic activities have the potential to move artifacts after deposition and distort the patterning once present in hominid discarded debris. Taphonomy at a Middle Stone Age cave (Pinnacle Point 13B) near Mossel Bay, South Africa is investigated here using artifact orientation data collected during excavation. Two angle measurements (bearing and plunge) were taken for all artifacts with a distinct long axis. The data are analyzed here using both graphical and statistical approaches, and a new graphical approach is presented. Using these measurements it is possible to distinguish between layers and areas of the site that are minimally disturbed and those that have been reworked to varying degrees. Data of this type are still not usually presented in publications of stone age sites. Given the complexities of the taphonomic history of these ancient sites, such data and analyses should become standard practice.
A detailed taphonomic analysis is provided for the mammalian and tortoise faunal assemblages from Pinnacle Point Cave 13B (PP13B). It is the first of several reports on the fauna from this site, and must necessarily precede analyses focused on higher level interpretations of Middle Stone Age (MSA) butchery, transport, and hunting behavior. The taphonomic work shows that the faunal assemblage is well preserved and there are discernable differences in the taphonomic pathways to which the fauna was subjected at PP13B between the Middle and Late Pleistocene, between the front and back of the cave, and between body size classes. The largest mammals (size classes 2-5, body weight >24 kg) were mainly accumulated by MSA hominins. Size class 1 ungulates also exhibit a degree of hominin modification consistent with some hominin accumulation of fresh carcasses, but this is more variable through time and includes an observable degree of independent carnivore contribution. Basic taxonomic comparisons reveal a low representation of small mammals, tortoises, and marine mammals at PP13B relative to larger (>4.5 kg) terrestrial mammals. This is a different pattern from other MSA sites along the southwestern coast of South Africa, where small mammals and tortoises are abundant. A microscopic study of the bone surfaces confirms that MSA hominins exploited these small faunal components opportunistically, while focusing most heavily on large terrestrial ungulates. All faunal components show evidence of carnivore scavenging of hominin food debris and a high degree of density mediated destruction. Raptors are at no point implicated as major accumulators of any fauna. The study demonstrates that the full spectrum of MSA faunal exploitation can only be understood when the large mammal, small mammal, and tortoise components of fossil assemblages have all been subjected to comprehensive taphonomic analyses.
Pinnacle Point Cave 13B (PP13B) has provided the earliest archaeological evidence for the exploitation of marine shellfish, along with very early evidence for use and modification of pigments and the production of bladelets, all dated to approximately 164 ka (Marean et al., 2007). This makes PP13B a key site in studies of the origins of modern humans, one of a handful of sites in Africa dating to Marine Isotope Stage 6 (MIS 6), and the only site on the coast of South Africa with human occupation confidently dated to MIS 6. Along with this MIS 6 occupation there are rich archaeological sediments dated to MIS 5, and together these sediments are differentially preserved in three different areas of the cave. The sediments represent a complex palimpsest of geogenic, biogenic, and anthropogenic input and alteration that are described and interpreted through the use of a variety of macrostratigraphic, micromorphologic, and geochemical techniques. Three independent dating techniques allow us to constrain the age range of these sediments and together provide the stratigraphic context for the analyses of the material that follow in this special issue.
Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) measurements are reported for single aliquots and single grains of quartz from sedimentary deposits within Cave 13B at Pinnacle Point, South Africa (PP13B). Ages have been obtained for 30 samples from the Middle Stone Age and from sterile geological deposits at the base and top of the sediment sequence. The ages for all the archaeological units have been obtained from single-grain measurements that enable unrepresentative grains to be rejected after they have been scrutinized for their OSL behavior. The shape of the equivalent dose distribution and the degree of spread in equivalent dose for each sample have also been scrutinized for evidence of depositional and post-depositional effects that can influence the accuracy of the age estimates. This study also used the same systematic approach as that used for the dating of the Howieson's Poort and Still Bay in South Africa. This single-grain approach results in more accurate and precise age estimates that place all ages measured and analyzed in this way on a common timescale. Four periods of human occupation have been dated to ~162ka, ~125ka, ~110ka, and ~99-91ka during Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 6, 5e, 5d, and 5c, respectively. Occupation of the site appears to have occurred at periods of higher sea level and increased aeolian activity, and the cave was ultimately sealed by the accumulation of a large dune ~90ka ago that infilled the cave, but also blanketed the cliff face above the cave, thus preventing further habitation of the site until ~39ka.
Genetic and anatomical evidence suggests that Homo sapiens arose in Africa between 200 and 100ka, and recent evidence suggests that complex cognition may have appeared between ~164 and 75ka. This evidence directs our focus to Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 6, when from 195-123ka the world was in a fluctuating but predominantly glacial stage, when much of Africa was cooler and drier, and when dated archaeological sites are rare. Previously we have shown that humans had expanded their diet to include marine resources by ~164ka (±12ka) at Pinnacle Point Cave 13B (PP13B) on the south coast of South Africa, perhaps as a response to these harsh environmental conditions. The associated material culture documents an early use and modification of pigment, likely for symbolic behavior, as well as the production of bladelet stone tool technology, and there is now intriguing evidence for heat treatment of lithics. PP13B also includes a later sequence of MIS 5 occupations that document an adaptation that increasingly focuses on coastal resources. A model is developed that suggests that the combined richness of the Cape Floral Region on the south coast of Africa, with its high diversity and density of geophyte plants and the rich coastal ecosystems of the associated Agulhas Current, combined to provide a stable set of carbohydrate and protein resources for early modern humans along the southern coast of South Africa during this crucial but environmentally harsh phase in the evolution of modern humans. Humans structured their mobility around the use of coastal resources and geophyte abundance and focused their occupation at the intersection of the geophyte rich Cape flora and coastline. The evidence for human occupation relative to the distance to the coastline over time at PP13B is consistent with this model.
This paper aims to identify the spatial patterning of burning and occupation within an early Middle Stone Age (MSA) sea cave in the Western Cape Province of South Africa by creating a multidimensional model of archaeomagnetic data recovered from all excavated units. Magnetic susceptibility and other mineral magnetic parameters are shown to provide an excellent proxy for the anthropogenic alteration and spread of burnt material into the surrounding unaltered cave deposits. The identification of combustion features and areas of occupation or different activities within the site can be determined because the movement of people throughout the cave mixes magnetically strong hearth material with magnetically weak unaltered sediments. This is also indicated by micromorphological analysis. The degree of enhancement is also shown to indicate the extent to which a deposit has been altered, and therefore, intensity of occupation, because multiple heatings of deposits are needed to form the concentrations of iron minerals occurring in some layers. This is further supported by a comparison with artifact density for the layers. Variation in the magnetic values between different areas of the site is noted with major occupation or fire building occurring in the front of the cave during earlier MIS 6 periods, while during later MIS 5 periods the entire cave is occupied intensively. The oldest, MIS 11 deposits at the rear of the cave indicate no evidence of enhancement and an apparent absence of any anthropogenic signature.
Earth pigments from the three excavations at Pinnacle Point Cave 13B (Western Cape Province, South Africa), spanning the terminal middle Pleistocene and earlier late Pleistocene, are described and analyzed. Qualitative geological categorization primarily rested on textural, fabric, and iron enrichment attributes. Comprehensive recovery allowed identification of non-anthropic pigmentaceous materials, questionable pigments, and 380 pigments (1.08 kg). Less chemically altered pigments were typically fine-grained sedimentary (FGS) rocks, tending to be soft, highly micaceous, prone to laminar fragmentation, and with reddish-brown streaks of intermediate nuance. More iron-enriched forms tended to be harder, denser, poorly micaceous, and with redder streaks of more saturated nuance. Some still qualified as FGS forms, but a large number were categorized as sandstone or iron oxide. Despite some temporal change in raw material profiles, circumstantial evidence suggests primarily local procurement from one outcrop throughout the sequence. Definitely utilized pieces (12.7%) were overwhelmingly ground. Unusual forms of modification include several notched pieces and a deliberately scraped 'chevron.' Controlling for fragmentation, streak properties of utilized versus unutilized pieces were used to investigate selective criteria. There was robust evidence for preferential grinding of the reddest materials, strongly suggestive evidence for saturation and darkness being subordinate selective criteria, and some indication of more intensive grinding of materials with the reddest, most saturated, and darkest streaks, and for some deliberate heating of pigments. These findings challenge the initial stages of color lexicalization predicted by the various versions of the basic color term (BCT) hypothesis, they provide grounds for rejecting hafting as a general explanatory hypothesis, and they cannot be accounted for by incidental heating. The results are more consistent with agreed upon canons of ornamentation than with individual display. It is concluded that the material was processed to produce saturated red pigment powders. On theoretical grounds, these are presumed to have served primarily as body paints in ritual performance.
Site PP13B is a cave located on the steep cliffs of Pinnacle Point near Mossel Bay in Western Cape Province, South Africa. The depositional sequence of the cave, predating Marine Isotopic Stage 11 (MIS 11) and continuing to present, is in the form of isolated sediment exposures with different depositional facies and vertical and lateral variations. Micromorphological analysis demonstrated that a suite of natural sedimentation processes operated during the development of the sequence ranging from water action to aeolian activity, and from speleothem formations to plant colonization and root encrustation. At the same time, anthropogenic sediments that are mainly in the form of burnt remains from combustion features (e.g., wood ash, charcoal, and burnt bone) were accumulating. Several erosional episodes have resulted in a complicated stratigraphy, as discerned from different depositional and post-depositional features. The cave is associated with a fluctuating coastal environment, frequent changes in sea level and climate controlled patterns of sedimentation, and the presence or absence of humans.
Excavations at a complex of caves and open air sites at Pinnacle Point, Mossel Bay, Southern Africa have uncovered rich stratified assemblages of Middle Stone Age materials, including those from Pinnacle Point Cave 13B (PP13B) that comprises the first modernly excavated assemblage in southern Africa to be securely dated to the Middle Pleistocene. We report here on the complete excavated lithic artifact assemblage from PP13B. Both technological and typological analyses of the complete assemblage were performed. The assemblage-scale analysis allows for intrasite comparison as well as comparison of the PP13B assemblage with other sites from the region. No size-related pattern of change over time was observed within the PP13B assemblage, although there is significant evidence for varying strategies of lithic reduction between excavation areas within the cave. Comparison with other material from the Southern African MSA suggests that there is significant inter- and intra-site variability in the Southern African Middle Stone Age, even between portions of assemblages that are roughly contemporaneous.
Plio-Pleistocene East African grassland expansion and faunal macroevolution, including that of our own lineage, are attributed to global climate change. To further understand environmental factors of early hominin evolution, we reconstruct the paleogeographic distribution of vegetation (C(3)-C(4) pathways) by stable carbon isotope (delta(13)C) analysis of pedogenic carbonates from the Plio-Pleistocene Koobi Fora region, northeast Lake Turkana Basin, Kenya. We analyzed 202 nodules (530 measurements) from ten paleontological/archaeological collecting areas spanning environments over a 50-km(2) area. We compared results across subregions in evolving fluviolacustrine depositional environments in the Koobi Fora Formation from 2.0-1.5 Ma, a stratigraphic interval that temporally brackets grassland ascendancy in East Africa. Significant differences in delta(13)C values between subregions are explained by paleogeographic controls on floral composition and distribution. Our results indicate grassland expansion between 2.0 and 1.75 Ma, coincident with major shifts in basin-wide sedimentation and hydrology. Hypotheses may be correct in linking Plio-Pleistocene hominin evolution to environmental changes from global climate; however, based on our results, we interpret complexity from proximate forces that mitigated basin evolution. An approximately 2.5 Ma tectonic event in southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya exerted strong effects on paleography in the Turkana Basin from 2.0-1.5 Ma, contributing to the shift from a closed, lacustrine basin to one dominated by open, fluvial conditions. We propose basin transformation decreased residence time for Omo River water and expanded subaerial floodplain landscapes, ultimately leading to reduced proportions of wooded floras and the establishment of habitats suitable for grassland communities.
The purpose of this study is to propose a new reconstruction of the australopithecine Sts 14 pelvis from original fossils. Digital models created from CT images allow us to perform mirroring operations, select valid regions after digital interposition, and reassemble parts. The key-element of the reconstruction is the sacroiliac joint, restored from right and left articular surfaces, which places of the pubic symphysis close to the sagittal plane. The complete pelvis is obtained by 3D model mirroring of hip-bone and sacrum. The present reconstruction of the Sts 14 pelvis is consistent with Schmid's (1983) [Folia Primatol. 40, 283-306, 1983] and Häusler and Schmid's A.L. 288-1 [J. Hum. Evol. 29, 363-383, 1995] pelvic reconstructions by illustrating a relatively platypelloid shape of the pelvic cavity and laterally inclined iliac blades. The pelvic morphology suggests that australopithecines had a less posteriorly tilted sacrum in erect posture than modern humans. As compared with Lovejoy's [Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. Suppl. 50, 460, 1979] A.L. 288-1 pelvic reconstruction, the less transversely flattened shape of the Sts 14 pelvic cavity led to obstetrical mechanics characterized as in humans by ante-ischiatic birth and a curved trajectory. We deduce a human-like movement of rotation and flexion of the fetal skull in the Sts 14 pelvic cavity.
The Pech-de-l'Azé I skull and mandible are included in the juvenile Neandertal remains from Europe. However, some preserved features in the cranial skeleton seem to distinguish the specimen from other Neandertal children. Unfortunately, the stratigraphic position and dating of this child has never been clear. Our recent work on unpublished archives show that the Pech-de-l'Azé I Neandertal child was discovered at the bottom of layer 6, attributed to the Mousterian of Acheulean tradition type B. These skull and mandible are the first diagnostic human remains (aside from an isolated tooth) attributed to the Mousterian of Acheulian tradition (MTA) type B. Consequently, we confirm that Neandertals were the makers of this Mousterian industry, which is characterized by unusual high frequencies of Upper Paleolithic type tools, elongated blanks and blades. We were able to date the context of the hominid remains by dating layer 6 and the layers above and beneath it using ESR, coupled ESR/(230)Th/(234)U (coupled ESR/U-series), and AMS (14)C. Coupled ESR/U-series results on 16 mammalian teeth constrain the age of the uppermost layer 7 to 41-58ka, and layer 6 to 37-51ka. The wide spread in each age estimate results mainly from uncertainties in the gamma-dose rate. These ages are concordant with AMS (14)C ages of two bones coming from the top of layer 6, which provide dates of about 41.7-43.6ka cal BP. A combination of stratigraphic arguments and dating results for layers 6 and 7 show that the Neandertal child cannot be older than 51ka or younger than 41ka. The lowermost layer 4 is shown to be older than 43ka by the principle of superposition and ESR dating in the immediately overlying layer 5. This study shows that the MTA type B had been manufactured by Neandertals before the arrival of anatomically modern humans in the local region. Additionally, by providing a firm chronological framework for the specific morphometric the features of Pech-de-l'Azé I Neandertal child, this study is a new step toward the understanding of temporal and spatial changes in the ontogenesis of Neandertals in south-western Europe during oxygen isotope stages 5-3.
Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) measurements are reported for both single aliquots (of two different sizes) and single grains of quartz from deposits within Blombos Cave. Ages have been obtained for six sediments from the Middle Stone Age (MSA) occupation levels and for two sterile sands, one underlying the archaeological sediment and one overlying the Later Stone Age occupation levels. The ages for the archaeological sediments were obtained from single-grain measurements that enabled unrepresentative grains to be rejected. The MSA occupation levels have ages that, within error limits, are in stratigraphic order and fall between the OSL age for the oldest dune sand (143.2+/-5.5 ka) and a previously published OSL age for the sterile sand ( approximately 70 ka) that separates the Middle and Later Stone Age deposits. The earliest MSA archaeological phase, M3, from where fragments of ochre were found as well as human teeth, is dated to 98.9+/-4.5 ka, coinciding with the sea-level high of oxygen isotope substage 5c. The cave then appears to be unoccupied until oxygen isotope substage 5a on the basis of four OSL ages for archaeological phase M2, ranging from 84.6+/-5.8 to 76.8+/-3.1 ka; these levels contained large hearths and bone tools. An age of 72.7+/-3.1 ka was obtained for the final MSA archaeological phase, M1, from which deliberately engraved ochre and shell beads were recovered along with bifacial stone points. We conclude that the periods of occupation were determined by changes in sea level, with abundant sources of seafood available in times of high sea level and with the cave being closed by the accumulation of large dunes during periods of low sea level, such as during oxygen isotope stages 4 and 6.
This paper combines the data sets available today for 14C-age calibration of the last 60 ka. By stepwise synchronization of paleoclimate signatures, each of these sets of 14C-ages is compared with the U/Th-dated Chinese Hulu Cave speleothem records, which shows global paleoclimate change in high temporal resolution. By this synchronization we have established an absolute-dated Greenland-Hulu chronological framework, against which global paleoclimate data can be referenced, extending the 14C-age calibration curve back to the limits of the radiocarbon method. Based on this new, U/Th-based Greenland(Hulu) chronology, we confirm that the radiocarbon timescale underestimates calendar ages by several thousand years during most of Oxygen Isotope Stage 3. Major atmospheric 14C variations are observed for the period of the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition, which has significant implications for dating the demise of the last Neandertals. The early part of "the transition" (with 14C ages > 35.0 ka 14C BP) coincides with the Laschamp geomagnetic excursion. This period is characterized by highly-elevated atmospheric 14C levels. The following period ca. 35.0-32.5 ka 14C BP shows a series of distinct large-scale 14C age inversions and extended plateaus. In consequence, individual archaeological 14C dates older than 35.0 ka 14C BP can be age-calibrated with relatively high precision, while individual dates in the interval 35.0-32.5 ka 14C BP are subject to large systematic age-'distortions,' and chronologies based on large data sets will show apparent age-overlaps of up to ca. 5,000 cal years. Nevertheless, the observed variations in past 14C levels are not as extreme as previously proposed ("Middle to Upper Paleolithic dating anomaly"), and the new chronological framework leaves ample room for application of radiocarbon dating in the age-range 45.0-25.0 ka 14C BP at high temporal resolution.
The dynamics of change underlying the demographic processes that led to the replacement of Neandertals by Anatomically Modern Humans (AMH) and the emergence of what are recognized as Upper Paleolithic technologies and behavior can only be understood with reference to the underlying chronological framework. This paper examines the European chronometric (mainly radiocarbon-based) record for the period between ca. 40 and 30 ka 14C BP and proposes a relatively rapid transition within some 2,500 years. This can be summarized in the following falsifiable hypotheses: (1) final Middle Paleolithic (FMP) "transitional" industries (Uluzzian, Chatelperronian, leaf-point industries) were made by Neandertals and date predominantly to between ca. 41 and 38 ka 14C BP, but not younger than 35/34 ka 14C BP; (2) initial (IUP) and early (EUP) Upper Paleolithic "transitional" industries (Bachokirian, Bohunician, Protoaurignacian, Kostenki 14) will date to between ca. 39/38 and 35 ka 14C BP and document the appearance of AMH in Europe; (3) the earliest Aurignacian (I) appears throughout Europe quasi simultaneously at ca. 35 ka 14C BP. The earliest appearance of figurative art is documented only for a later phase ca. 33.0/32.5-29.2 ka 14C BP. Taken together, the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition appears to be a cumulative process involving the acquisition of different elements of "behavioral modernity" through several "stages of innovation."
Size and proportions of the postcranial skeleton differ markedly between Australopithecus afarensis and Homo ergaster, and between the latter and modern Homo sapiens. This study uses computer simulations of gait in models derived from the best-known skeletons of these species (AL 288-1, Australopithecus afarensis, 3.18 million year ago) and KNM-WT 15000 (Homo ergaster, 1.5-1.8 million year ago) compared to models of adult human males and females, to estimate the required muscle power during bipedal walking, and to compare this with those in modern humans. Skeletal measurements were carried out on a cast of KNM-WT 15000, but for AL 288-1 were taken from the literature. Muscle attachments were applied to the models based on their position relative to the bone in modern humans. Joint motions and moments from experiments on human walking were input into the models to calculate muscle stress and power. The models were tested in erect walking and 'bent-hip bent-knee' gait. Calculated muscle forces were verified against EMG activity phases from experimental data, with reference to reasonable activation/force delays. Calculated muscle powers are reasonably comparable to experimentally derived metabolic values from the literature, given likely values for muscle efficiency. The results show that: 1) if evaluated by the power expenditure per unit of mass (W/kg) in walking, AL 288-1 and KNM-WT 15000 would need similar power to modern humans; however, 2) with distance-specific parameters as the criteria, AL 288-1 would require to expend relatively more muscle power (W/kg.m(-1)) in comparison to modern humans. The results imply that in the evolution of bipedalism, body proportions, for example those of KNM-WT 15000, may have evolved to obtain an effective application of muscle power to bipedal walking over a long distance, or at high speed.
For over twenty years, the young, male Homo erectus specimen KNM-WT 15000 has been the focus of studies on growth and development, locomotion, size, sexual dimorphism, skeletal morphology, and encephalization, often serving as the standard for his species. Prior research on KNM-WT 15000 operates under the assumption that H. erectus experienced a modern human life history, including an adolescent growth spurt. However, recent fossil discoveries, improvements in research methods, and new insights into modern human ontogeny suggest that this may not have been the case. In this study, we examine alternative life history trajectories in H. erectus to re-evaluate adult stature estimates for KNM-WT 15000. We constructed a series of hypothetical growth curves by modifying known human and chimpanzee curves, calculating intermediate growth velocities, and shifting the age of onset and completion of growth in stature. We recalculated adult stature for KNM-WT 15000 by increasing stature at death by the percentage of growth remaining in each curve. The curve that most closely matches the life history events experienced by KNM-WT 15000 prior to death indicates that growth in this specimen would have been completed by 12.3 years of age. These results suggest that KNM-WT 15000 would have experienced a growth spurt that had a lower peak velocity and shorter duration than the adolescent growth spurt in modern humans. As a result, it is likely that KNM-WT 15000 would have only attained an adult stature of 163 cm (∼ 5'4 ″), not 185 cm (∼ 6'1 ″) as previously reported. KNM-WT 15000's smaller stature has important implications for evolutionary scenarios involving early genus Homo.
Ten years ago, evidence from genetics gave strong support to the "recent African origin" view of the evolution of modern humans, which posits that Homo sapiens arose as a new species in Africa and subsequently spread, leading to the extinction of other archaic human species. Subsequent data from the nuclear genome not only fail to support this model, they do not support any simple model of human demographic history. In this paper, we study a process in which the modern human phenotype originates in Africa and then advances across the world by local demic diffusion, hybridization, and natural selection. While the multiregional model of human origins posits a number of independent single locus selective sweeps, and the "out of Africa" model posits a sweep of a new species, we study the intermediate case of a phenotypic sweep. Numerical simulations of this process replicate many of the seemingly contradictory features of the genetic data, and suggest that as much as 80% of nuclear loci have assimilated genetic material from non-African archaic humans.
A recently recognized hominin hallucal metatarsal, SK 1813, from Swartkrans bears a suite of primitive and derived traits. Comparisons with extant apes, modern humans, SKX 5017, and Stw 562 reveals similar morphology in all three fossils and that these early hominins, while bipedal, possessed a unique toe-off mechanism. The implications of this are that both primitive and derived traits must be used to establish the total biomechanical pattern.
Presentation des conferences et des derniers travaux sur Gibraltar et les neandertaliens. Cette conference a ete l'occasion de faire le point sur les decouvertes les plus importantes et les plus recentes sur les neandertaliens.
The macaque material from the Early Pleistocene site of Quibas (Albanilla, Murcia, Spain), including dentognathic remains, isolated teeth and some postcranial bone fragments, is described. Both metrically and morphologically, this sample must be attributed to Macaca sylvanus (the Barbary macaque). This species is currently distributed through North Africa and Gibraltar, but was much more widely distributed during the Plio-Pleistocene, being represented by several European fossil subspecies. Metrical comparisons of dental size and proportions between extant M. s. sylvanus and fossil Macaca sylvanus florentina from the type locality and other Italian sites are undertaken, in order to classify the remains from Quibas at the subspecies level. The results show that the Quibas sample not only fits the range of variation of M. s. florentina from the type locality, but also differs from the extant Barbary macaque condition in several regards. This permits us to formally attribute the material from Quibas to M. s. florentina. The material described in this paper therefore significantly improves the knowledge of this fossil taxon, particularly regarding the upper dentition, and further confirms the taxonomic distinctiveness of this extinct taxon at the subspecies rank. Taken as a whole, M. s. florentina largely overlaps in dental dimensions with M. s. sylvanus, but differs from the latter by displaying (on average): (1) absolutely longer upper molars (especially M(1) and M(3)); (2) relatively wider upper molars (especially M(1) and M(2)); (3) longer M(3) as compared with the M(2); (4) absolutely longer M(1) and M(3); and (5) relatively narrower M(3).
The site of Ahl al Oughlam near Casablanca, Morocco, dated to ca. 2.5 Ma, has yielded a good sample of Theropithecus atlanticus (Thomas, 1884), a North African late Pliocene species previously known only by its holotype, a lower molar from Algeria. Theropithecus atlanticus, which can now be much better defined, is clearly distinct from other species of the genus, which is thus more diverse than previously thought. The mandible of T. atlanticus has a very characteristic deep and long post-molar sulcus and a deep and well excavated supra-lateral triangular depression of the ramus, with a sharp postero-inferior ridge. The upper and lower canines are rather large but low. The male P3 is very wide, with well developed posterior crests; the P4 is rounded, with a large talonid and weak notches and clefts. Median lingual notches of the lower molars form an acute angle. Although our incomplete knowledge of T. atlanticus precludes a detailed phylogenetic analysis, we suggest that it arose by cladogenesis from the T. darti-T. oswaldi lineage; it is replaced by the latter species in the Pleistocene.
We analyze terminal Pleistocene archaeofaunal diversity trends in the Southern Levant by examining eight Epipaleolithic (ca. 19-12ka) assemblages from the Western Galilee/Mt. Carmel, Israel subregion. We test predictions from a Broad Spectrum Revolution model of the population dynamics of human foragers and their prey. The study emphasizes control over geographic variability and archaeological recovery and recording methods, as we analyze a time series that samples the Epipaleolithic more fully than have previous studies. This provides a new opportunity to examine human population and economic change in the long-term transition to sedentism and agriculture. We use the Mantel test to evaluate the significance of temporal trends in body-size-based big game diversity, as well as in diversity of small game prey types. Results demonstrate a highly significant decline through time in the relative abundance of medium and large big game, measured relative to small big game. This suggests that the apparent "gazelle specialization" by Late Epipaleolithic (Natufian) hunters reflects longer-term anthropogenic overexploitation of the largest prey types in the spectrum. While large and medium big game abundance declined, our results show small game increased in economic importance over time. Considered with associated climate change data, the results provide substantial support for the hypothesis that local human populations expanded rapidly in size after the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). We suggest that following the post-LGM population pulse, human foragers adopted a shifting series of intensification strategies mediated by changes in residential mobility.