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Geological and taphonomic context for the new hominin species Homo naledi from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa.

Dirks PH, Berger LR, Roberts EM, Kramers JD, Hawks J, Randolph-Quinney PS, Elliott M, Musiba CM, Churchill SE, de Ruiter DJ, Schmid P, Backwell LR, Belyanin GA, Boshoff P, Hunter KL, Feuerriegel EM, Gurtov A, Harrison Jdu G, Hunter R, Kruger A, Morris H, Makhubela TV, Peixotto B, Tucker S - Elife (2015)

Bottom Line: The chamber was always in the dark zone, and not accessible to non-hominins.Bone taphonomy indicates that hominin individuals reached the chamber complete, with disarticulation occurring during/after deposition.Preliminary evidence is consistent with deliberate body disposal in a single location, by a hominin species other than Homo sapiens, at an as-yet unknown date.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Earth and Oceans, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia.

ABSTRACT
We describe the physical context of the Dinaledi Chamber within the Rising Star cave, South Africa, which contains the fossils of Homo naledi. Approximately 1550 specimens of hominin remains have been recovered from at least 15 individuals, representing a small portion of the total fossil content. Macro-vertebrate fossils are exclusively H. naledi, and occur within clay-rich sediments derived from in situ weathering, and exogenous clay and silt, which entered the chamber through fractures that prevented passage of coarser-grained material. The chamber was always in the dark zone, and not accessible to non-hominins. Bone taphonomy indicates that hominin individuals reached the chamber complete, with disarticulation occurring during/after deposition. Hominins accumulated over time as older laminated mudstone units and sediment along the cave floor were eroded. Preliminary evidence is consistent with deliberate body disposal in a single location, by a hominin species other than Homo sapiens, at an as-yet unknown date.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Geological setting of Cradle of Humankind and Rising Star cave system.(A) Geology of Johannesburg Dome and surroundings, showing the Cradle of Humankind world heritage site in bold black outline. (B) surface geology of the immediate surroundings of the Rising Star cave system, showing the fault sets and variable chert content in the dolomite that controlled cave formation. The cave system is confined to a chert-poor stromatolitic dolomite horizon.DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09561.003
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fig1: Geological setting of Cradle of Humankind and Rising Star cave system.(A) Geology of Johannesburg Dome and surroundings, showing the Cradle of Humankind world heritage site in bold black outline. (B) surface geology of the immediate surroundings of the Rising Star cave system, showing the fault sets and variable chert content in the dolomite that controlled cave formation. The cave system is confined to a chert-poor stromatolitic dolomite horizon.DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09561.003

Mentions: The Pliocene-Pleistocene cave deposits in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site (South Africa) preserve a diversity of hominin fossils in a varied set of contexts (Hughes and Tobias, 1977; Clarke, 1998; Partridge et al., 2003; Berger et al., 2010; Bruxelles et al., 2014; Berger et al., 2015). Hominin remains in the area are generally encased in lithified clastic deposits in caves that are situated in stromatolite-rich dolomite of the Malmani Subgroup (Eriksson et al., 2006) (Figure 1). Sedimentological and taphonomic descriptions of notable fossil sites (Brain, 1981; de Ruiter et al., 2009; Dirks et al., 2010; Pickering and Kramers, 2010; Pickering et al., 2011a, 2011b) indicate that fossils were trapped and preserved in caves as a result of a range of processes including death traps, scavenging, mud flows and predation. Distribution patterns of fossiliferous caves in the area suggest that fossil deposition occurred in caves that are close to critical resources such as water (Reynolds et al., 2011; Dirks and Berger, 2013).10.7554/eLife.09561.003Figure 1.Geological setting of Cradle of Humankind and Rising Star cave system.


Geological and taphonomic context for the new hominin species Homo naledi from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa.

Dirks PH, Berger LR, Roberts EM, Kramers JD, Hawks J, Randolph-Quinney PS, Elliott M, Musiba CM, Churchill SE, de Ruiter DJ, Schmid P, Backwell LR, Belyanin GA, Boshoff P, Hunter KL, Feuerriegel EM, Gurtov A, Harrison Jdu G, Hunter R, Kruger A, Morris H, Makhubela TV, Peixotto B, Tucker S - Elife (2015)

Geological setting of Cradle of Humankind and Rising Star cave system.(A) Geology of Johannesburg Dome and surroundings, showing the Cradle of Humankind world heritage site in bold black outline. (B) surface geology of the immediate surroundings of the Rising Star cave system, showing the fault sets and variable chert content in the dolomite that controlled cave formation. The cave system is confined to a chert-poor stromatolitic dolomite horizon.DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09561.003
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4559842&req=5

fig1: Geological setting of Cradle of Humankind and Rising Star cave system.(A) Geology of Johannesburg Dome and surroundings, showing the Cradle of Humankind world heritage site in bold black outline. (B) surface geology of the immediate surroundings of the Rising Star cave system, showing the fault sets and variable chert content in the dolomite that controlled cave formation. The cave system is confined to a chert-poor stromatolitic dolomite horizon.DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09561.003
Mentions: The Pliocene-Pleistocene cave deposits in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site (South Africa) preserve a diversity of hominin fossils in a varied set of contexts (Hughes and Tobias, 1977; Clarke, 1998; Partridge et al., 2003; Berger et al., 2010; Bruxelles et al., 2014; Berger et al., 2015). Hominin remains in the area are generally encased in lithified clastic deposits in caves that are situated in stromatolite-rich dolomite of the Malmani Subgroup (Eriksson et al., 2006) (Figure 1). Sedimentological and taphonomic descriptions of notable fossil sites (Brain, 1981; de Ruiter et al., 2009; Dirks et al., 2010; Pickering and Kramers, 2010; Pickering et al., 2011a, 2011b) indicate that fossils were trapped and preserved in caves as a result of a range of processes including death traps, scavenging, mud flows and predation. Distribution patterns of fossiliferous caves in the area suggest that fossil deposition occurred in caves that are close to critical resources such as water (Reynolds et al., 2011; Dirks and Berger, 2013).10.7554/eLife.09561.003Figure 1.Geological setting of Cradle of Humankind and Rising Star cave system.

Bottom Line: The chamber was always in the dark zone, and not accessible to non-hominins.Bone taphonomy indicates that hominin individuals reached the chamber complete, with disarticulation occurring during/after deposition.Preliminary evidence is consistent with deliberate body disposal in a single location, by a hominin species other than Homo sapiens, at an as-yet unknown date.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Earth and Oceans, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia.

ABSTRACT
We describe the physical context of the Dinaledi Chamber within the Rising Star cave, South Africa, which contains the fossils of Homo naledi. Approximately 1550 specimens of hominin remains have been recovered from at least 15 individuals, representing a small portion of the total fossil content. Macro-vertebrate fossils are exclusively H. naledi, and occur within clay-rich sediments derived from in situ weathering, and exogenous clay and silt, which entered the chamber through fractures that prevented passage of coarser-grained material. The chamber was always in the dark zone, and not accessible to non-hominins. Bone taphonomy indicates that hominin individuals reached the chamber complete, with disarticulation occurring during/after deposition. Hominins accumulated over time as older laminated mudstone units and sediment along the cave floor were eroded. Preliminary evidence is consistent with deliberate body disposal in a single location, by a hominin species other than Homo sapiens, at an as-yet unknown date.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus