Volume 39 December 2003

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    Palaeontologia africana Volume 39
    (Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, 2003)
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    The formation and sedimentary infilling of the Limeworks Cave, Makapansgat, South Africa
    (Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, 2003) Latham, Alfred G.; Herries, Andy I. R.; Kuykendall, K.
    The remnant cavern of the Limeworks australopithecine site has a number of special features. Firstly, unlike Swartkrans and Sterkfontein, which developed in relatively flat relief, the Limeworks Cave developed as part of a mountain karst. Then upon abandonment by its formative river, there formeda unique, conjoined series of tall stalagmites and columns arranged in an irregular arc against the walls of the cavern. This arc had the effect of dividing up the space into a central volume and several lateral alcoves. The spaces were separated from each other, so that, when the cavern began to unroof, each came to be filled by its own surficial deposits or, in some cases, not at all. At only one level is it possible to show that a gap existed between two adjacent repositories so as to produce common, contemporaneous deposits. This turns out to be the hyena den layer known as the Grey Breccia, and a connection was made possible with the centre by spaces that existed at local roof level for a limited period. The Grey Breccia appears to be about contemporaneous with the white bone breccia at the back of the cavern, whereas the black bone breccia in theMain Quarry is slightly younger than these two. The recognition of distinctive depositional horizons has allowed us to reconstruct a stratigraphic section for all deposits from the known base to the known top on the western side of the site. This section can be used for magnetostratigraphic purposes to construct a firmer chronology that includes the Grey Breccia; but further work is required to tie in the eastern side.
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    Biological aspects of the Permian dicynodont Oudenodon (Therapsida: Dicynodontia) deduced from bone histology and cross-sectional geometry
    (Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, 2003) Botha, Jennifer
    Bone histology and cross-sectional geometry were used to examine the growth patterns and lifestyle habits of the Late Permian dicynodont, Oudenodon. Several limb bones were analysed, revealing rapidly deposited fibro-lamellar bone, interrupted by annuli or sometimes Lines of Arrested Growth. Peripheral slowly deposited parallel-fibred bone was observed in several elements. It is suggested that the initial growth of Oudenodon was rapid during the favourable growing season, but decreased or sometimes ceased completely during the unfavourable season. Growth was cyclical and may have been sensitive to environmental fluctuations. The slowly forming parallel-fibred bone towards the sub-periosteal surface in several elements indicates a permanent transition to slow growth and may reflect the onset of sexual maturity. Bone cross-sectional geometry results reveal a markedly thick cortex, indicating a possible modification for digging. These cross-sectional geometry values, in conjunction with the limb morphology, suggest that Oudenodon was fossorial.
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    A definite prosauropod dinosaur from the Lower Elliot Formation (Norian: Upper Triassic) of South Africa
    (Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, 2003) Yates, Adam M.
    A new sauropodomorph dinosaur specimen is described and identified as a prosauropod. It is tentatively placed as the sister taxon of Riojasaurus incertus from Argentina. The systematic position of all commonly accepted sauropodomorph dinosaurs from the Lower Elliott Formation of South Africa is reviewed and it is found that none can be positively identified as prosauropod. Euskelosaurus browni is a nomen dubium based on material that cannot be identified further than Sauropodomorpha. Blikanasaurus cromptoni and Antetonitrus ingenipes are basal sauropods. Melanorosaurus readi is probably another basal sauropod but opinion remains divided. Plateosauravus cullingworthi presents conflicting character data and at present is classified as Sauropodomorpha incertae sedis. Consequently the specimen described here represents the only prosauropod specimen currently recognized in the Lower Elliot Formation of South Africa.
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    Preservation and interpretation of pollen in hyaena coprolites: taphonomic observations from Spain and southern Africa
    (Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research, 2003) Scott, Louis; Fernandez-Jalvo, Yolanda; Carrion, Jose; Brink, James
    A survey of palynological research on hyaena coprolites from 10 fossil sites in southern Africa and 4 from Spain shows that coprolites from 10 out of the 14 sites contained fossil pollen. Pollen-bearing coprolites are generally richer in pollen than the surrounding sediments. Provisionally it seems that the sites with poor or no pollen in coprolites are relatively old or have been exposed to wet and dry moisture fluctuations, namely Makapansgat, Gran Dolina, Redcliff Cave and Erfkroon. This suggests that conditions during their long histories eventually destroyed pollen through oxidation associated with regular saturation of sediments. The composition of pollen spectra and preservation of pollen grains from coprolites is compared with that in fresh hyaena dung. SEM studies suggest that pollen grains in fresh dung and in fossil coprolites if preserved under suitable cave conditions, are generally well preserved with little damage. The damage traits require further systematic investigation in order to assess their taphonomic significance but selective destruction of pollen through ingestion, if any, seems to be light. Of particular interest to palaeoenvironmental studies is the observation that pollen assemblages preserved in hyaena dung are likely to provide relatively unbiased characterizations of vegetation representative of the wide surroundings in which the hyaenas were active. This implies that where pollen was relatively wellpreserved in coprolites, it can provide palaeoenvironmental information extending beyond the immediate environs of the site in which they were found. Any possible bias introduced through behaviour-related pollen trapping is, however, difficult to exclude.