Palaeontology and geological context of a Middle Pleistocene faunal assemblage from the Gladysvale Cave, South Africa

Lacruz, R S
Brink, James S
Hancox, P J
Skinner, A R
Herries, A
Schmid, Peter
Berger, Lee R
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Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research
Palaeontological and geological research at the Gladysvale Cave during the last decade has concentrated on de-roofed deposits located outside the Main Chamber. This area has been termed the Gladysvale External Deposit (GVED) and consists of fossil-rich calcified and decalcified sediments. Here we report on the recent analysis of both the faunal material and the geological context of this deposit. The faunal assemblage, excavated from the decalcified sediments contains 29 mammal species including taxa rare or absent in the Witwatersrand Plio-Pleistocene fossil record (e.g. Pelorovis and Kobus leche). Carnivores and porcupines are identified as accumulating agents of the bones. No new hominin findings can be reported from this deposit, and no cultural remains have been recovered. Geologically the calcified and decalcified breccias represent part of a large talus cone that is relatively unexposed. Uniquely for a cave fill in the Witwatersrand hominin-bearing sites, the sediments are horizontally stratified and form a number of flowstone bound sequences. The dating of the in situ cemented sediments is based on electron spin resonance (ESR) and palaeomagnetism. Recent results indicate that the deposits are of Middle-Pleistocene age.
Middle Pleistocene, Gladysvale, flowstone