Volume 55: 2021–

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    Taxonomic and taphonomic interpretations of newly excavated in situ GD 2 faunal remains at Gondolin
    (The Evolutionary Studies Institute, 2024-01) Engelbrecht, Micke; Val, Aurore; Kibii, Job M.; Steininger, Christine
    Gondolin is one of the fossil-bearing karstic localities in the Cradle of Humankind, South Africa. Periodic excavations of calcified and decalcified sediments at several loci (GD 1,GD2 andGDA) over the last few decades have yielded a sizeable sample of Plio-Pleistocene fauna, including two hominin teeth from ex situ deposits. In 2015, renewed excavations were conducted at the GD 2 locality, which consists of decalcified in situ deposits, in order to shed more light on the site’s complex formation processes as well as to try finding new hominin material from a stratigraphically secured context. While these excavations did not yield any hominin material, abundant macrovertebrate remains were recovered. This paper presents the taxonomic composition and taphonomic characteristics of this new faunal assemblage. The occurrence of Equus sp. as well as the extinct species Metridiochoerus andrewsi and Hystrix makapanensis places the assemblage in a depositional age bracket of 2.33–1.78 Ma, which is consistent with ages already proposed forGD2. No primate material was recovered. The assemblage displays a taxonomic and bodyweight bias towards small-bodied (size classes I and II) bovids. The taphonomic characteristics of the bovid remains suggest the selective action of a leopard-like carnivore and while there is no direct evidence that the locality was used as a hyaena den, secondary scavenging by hyaenids cannot be excluded. Porcupines played an ancillary role in the bone accumulation. We performed intra- and inter-site taxonomic and taphonomic comparisons between this faunal sample and fossil assemblages from previously excavated localities at Gondolin (GD 1, GD 2 and GD A), as well as from other Paranthropus robustus-bearing sites in the Cradle of Humankind. These comparisons indicate that this new sample closely resembles the faunal assemblage previously collected from in situ calcified sediments at the GD 2 locality, in terms of species composition, bovid size class distribution, carnivore to ungulate ratio, and general taphonomic characterization.
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    Postcranial morphology of the South African middle Permian pareiasaurs from the Karoo Basin of South Africa
    (Evolutionary Studies Institute, 2021-05-28) van den Brandt, Marc J.; Benoit, Julien; Abdala, Fernando; Rubidge, Bruce S.
    Pareiasaurs were relatively abundant and globally distributed herbivorous parareptiles of the middle to late Permian. The basal-most pareiasaurs, the Bradysauria, are restricted to the middle Permian of South Africa and went extinct at the end of the Guadalupian (Capitanian) at the top of the Tapinocephalus Assemblage Zone. Currently, three genera are recognized in this group: Bradysaurus, Embrithosaurus and Nochelesaurus, but their postcrania are poorly known, and consequently poorly understood. In this paper, our third contribution designed to improve understanding of the Bradysauria, we present a detailed comparative postcranial description and updated diagnoses for Bradysaurus baini, Embrithosaurus schwarzi and Nochelesaurus alexanderi. Bradysaurus baini has one postcranial autapomorphy: anterior dorsal osteoderms smooth and strongly convex, with an incipient central boss, and very light ornamentation. Three pelvic autopomorphies of Embrithosaurus schwarzi are confirmed: anterior portion of the iliac blades flat and vertical (not everted or upturned); iIiac blades diverge anteriorly, oriented at 45–60° off the sagittal plane; and a very thick pelvic symphysis. For Nochelesaurus alexanderi we remove all three of the postcranial autapomorphies previously proposed. To the diagnoses of each species, we have added several new distinguishing postcranial features, within the local group of middle Permian pareiasaurs. The results reinforce our previous cranial studies concluding that three valid species of pareiasaurs are represented in the South African middle Permian.