Lab

Rivka Rabinovich's Lab

Featured projects (1)

Project
To identify the amphibians and reptiles in the fossil record of the Hula Valley from 780,000 to 12,000 B.P. To clarify the interactions of humans with amphibians and reptiles, identify marks of exploitation, and if they exist, understand their meaning. To shed light on possible climatic and environmental changes in the Hula Valley as indicated by amphibians and reptiles.

Featured research (6)

The submerged site of Ohalo II was occupied during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), between 23,500–22,500 cal BP, bridging the Upper Paleolithic/Epipaleolithic transition in the southern Levant. The site is known for the excellent preservation of its brush huts and botanical remains. This study examines the behavior of its past inhabitants through analysis of the entire faunal assemblage found on the three successive floors of Brush Hut 1. Furthermore, it provides an opportunity to test differing models of prey choice and assess whether the observed resource diversification is the result of resource depression (explained by Optimal Foraging Theory) or resource abundance (explained by Niche Construction Theory). We focused on a quantitative, qualitative and spatial investigation of the more than 20,000 faunal remains, combining traditional zooarchaeological methods with microwear analysis of teeth and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) of burnt bones. Identification of faunal remains to the most detailed level possible, combined with analysis of skeletal element frequencies allowed reconstruction of a profile of the desired prey, highlighting the importance of small, expedient prey compared to larger game (ungulates). FTIR was used to identify degrees of burning and to develop a key to identifying burnt bones from water-logged environments. Availability of multiple food sources within a rich habitat may have driven exploitation of those varied local resources, rather than targeting energetically-rich large prey. The choice of a littoral habitat that could be intensively exploited is an example of niche selection. Comparison with contemporaneous and later sites contributes to the ongoing discussion about Early Epipaleolithic prey choice, and the impact, if any, of the LGM in the Jordan Valley. Ohalo II is an example of diverse prey choice motivated by abundance rather than stress, at a 23,000-year-old fisher-hunter-gatherers camp.
A revision of the rhinocerotid material from the Negev (Israel), dating back to the early Miocene (MN3 in the European Mammal Biochronology), highlights the presence of Brachypotherium and a taxon close to Gaindatherium in the Levantine corridor. A juvenile mandible, investigated using CT scanning, displays morphologically distinct characters consistent with Brachypotherium cf. B . snowi rather than with other Eurasian representatives of this genus. Some postcranial remains from the Negev, such as a humerus, display features that distinguish it among Miocene taxa. We attribute these postcrania to cf. Gaindatherium sp., a taxon never recorded outside the Siwaliks until now. This taxon dispersed into the Levantine region during the late early Miocene, following a pattern similar to other South Asian taxa. Brachypotherium cf. B . snowi probably occurred in the Levantine region and then in North Africa during the early Miocene because its remains are known from slightly younger localities such as Moghara (Egypt) and Jebel Zelten (Libya). The occurrence cf. Gaindatherium sp. represents a previously unrecorded range expansion out of Southeast Asia. These new records demonstrate the paleogeographic importance of the Levantine region showcasing the complex role of the Levantine corridor in intercontinental dispersals between Asia and Europe as well as Eurasia and Africa.
Taxonomic identification of fossils is fundamental to a wide range of geological and biological disciplines. Many fossil groups are identified based on expert judgement, which requires extensive experience and is not always available for the specific taxonomic group at hand. Nerineoideans, a group of extinct gastropods that formed a major component of Mesozoic shallow marine environments, have distinctive internal spiral folds that form the basis for their classification at the genus level. However, their identification is often inconsistent because it is based on a set of selected characters reliant upon individual interpretation. This study shows a non-destructive and quantitative method for their identification using micro-CT and geometric morphometrics. We examined and micro-CT-scanned nerineoidean specimens from five main families that dominated Europe, Arabia and Africa during the Middle-Late Jurassic. Optimal longitudinal slices were selected from the tomographic reconstructions or from images of polished cross-sections compiled from fossil collections, published work and online databases. Internal whorl outlines were represented by 30 evenly distributed sliding semilandmarks and shape variations were studied using the Procrustes-based geometric morphometrics method. Mul-tivariate analysis shows that Ceritellidae and Ptygmatididae are distinct families, whereas Nerinellidae, Eunerineidae and Nerineidae fall within the same shape variance and cannot be distinguished based on internal whorl outlines. The suggested method can be applied to images from various sources as well as to poorly preserved specimens. Our case study demonstrates the importance of quantitatively re-evaluating taxon-omy in the fossil record, promoting the future utility of large datasets.

Lab head

Rivka Rabinovich
Department
  • Institute of Archaeology, Institute of Earth Sciences
About Rivka Rabinovich
  • Rivka Rabinovich currently works at the Institute of Archaeology, Institute of Earth Sciences and is the Collection curator and Director of the Paleontological and Archaeozoological collections of the Hebrew Universtiy of Jerusalem (National Natural History Collection of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem). Rivka does research in Archaeozoology and Paleontology.

Members (4)

Rebecca Biton
  • Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Gail Gali Beiner
  • Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Yael Leshno
  • Geological Survey of Israel
Tikvah Steiner
  • Hebrew University of Jerusalem