Volume 33 1997
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Browsing Volume 33 1997 by Author "Brain"
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- ItemThe contribution of Raymond Dart to the development of cave taphonomy(Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, 1997) BrainThe basic principles of African cave taphonomy were formulated in 1976, but twenty years earlier, Raymond Dart embarked on a pioneering taphonomic investigation into a hominid-bearing fossil assemblage from the Makapansgat Limeworks cave. He asked the questions that are typically addressed in contemporary cave-taphonomic studies, such as: how did the bones find their way into the cave? From what animals were the bones derived? What parts of the skeleton are represented and what damage have the bones suffered? What can be said about the behaviour of the hominids and other animals whose remains are preserved in the cave? Dart concluded that hominids had been responsible for collecting the very large number of bones preserved in the Member 3 grey breccia unit. He set up a theory ofthe "osteodontokeratic" culture of Australopithecus and drew some remarkable conclusions about the nature and behaviour of early hominids. These conclusions, presented in powerful prose, provoked a good deal of subsequent research that set the discipline of cave taphonomy on its course.