Taphonomic analysis of the faunal assemblage associated with the hominins (Australopithecus sediba) from the early pleistocene cave deposits of Malapa, South Africa.
Public Library of Science
Here we present the results of a taphonomic study of the faunal assemblage associated with the hominin fossils (Australopithecus sediba) from the Malapa site. Results include estimation of body part representation, mortality profiles, type of fragmentation, identification of breakage patterns, and microscopic analysis of bone surfaces. The diversity of the faunal spectrum, presence of animals with climbing proclivities, abundance of complete and/or articulated specimens, occurrence of antimeric sets of elements, and lack of carnivore-modified bones, indicate that animals accumulated via a natural death trap leading to an area of the cave system with no access to mammalian scavengers. The co-occurrence of well preserved fossils, carnivore coprolites, deciduous teeth of brown hyaena, and some highly fragmented and poorly preserved remains supports the hypothesis of a mixing of sediments coming from distinct chambers, which collected at the bottom of the cave system through the action of periodic water flow. This combination of taphonomic features explains the remarkable state of preservation of the hominin fossils as well as some of the associated faunal material.
Article, Australopithecus sediba, biodiversity, bone structure, carnivore, cave, deciduous tooth, fauna, fossil hominin, hyena, nonhuman, Pleistocene, preservation, South Africa, taphonomy
Val, A. et al. 2015. Taphonomic analysis of the faunal assemblage associated with the hominins (Australopithecus sediba) from the early pleistocene cave deposits of Malapa, South Africa. PloS ONE 10 (6): e0126904.