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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 map and cross-section of the Rising Star cave system.(A) Geological Map showing the distribution of chert-free dolomite and fracture systems controlling the cave. Inset shows the location of the Cradle of Humankind in southern Africa; (B) Northeast-Southwest, schematic cross section through the cave system, relative to several chert marker horizons; (C) Detailed map of the Dinaledi Chamber showing the orientation of the floor and the position of the excavation and sampling sites.DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09561.004
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fig2: Geological map and cross-section of the Rising Star cave system.(A) Geological Map showing the distribution of chert-free dolomite and fracture systems controlling the cave. Inset shows the location of the Cradle of Humankind in southern Africa; (B) Northeast-Southwest, schematic cross section through the cave system, relative to several chert marker horizons; (C) Detailed map of the Dinaledi Chamber showing the orientation of the floor and the position of the excavation and sampling sites.DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09561.004

Mentions: The Rising Star cave system lies in the Bloubank River valley, 2.2 km west of Sterkfontein cave. It comprises an area of 250 × 150 m of mapped passageways situated in the core of a gently west dipping (17°) open fold, and is stratigraphically bound to a 15–20 m thick, stromatolitic dolomite horizon in the lower parts of the Monte Christo Formation (Eriksson et al., 2006; Figures 1B and 2A). This dolomite horizon is largely chert-free, but contains five thin (<10 cm) chert marker horizons that have been used to evaluate the relative position of chambers within the system (Figure 2B). The upper contact is marked by a 1–1.3 m-thick, capping chert unit that forms the roof of several large cave chambers. Surface mapping indicates that cave openings and flowstone-filled fractures do not penetrate this capping chert unit, except where a dextral fault truncates the stratigraphy to the south of the system (Figure 2). The network of cavities is developed along west-northwest, north and northwest trending fractures and joints.10.7554/eLife.09561.004Figure 2.Geological map and cross-section of the 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 map and cross-section of the Rising Star cave system.(A) Geological Map showing the distribution of chert-free dolomite and fracture systems controlling the cave. Inset shows the location of the Cradle of Humankind in southern Africa; (B) Northeast-Southwest, schematic cross section through the cave system, relative to several chert marker horizons; (C) Detailed map of the Dinaledi Chamber showing the orientation of the floor and the position of the excavation and sampling sites.DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09561.004
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

fig2: Geological map and cross-section of the Rising Star cave system.(A) Geological Map showing the distribution of chert-free dolomite and fracture systems controlling the cave. Inset shows the location of the Cradle of Humankind in southern Africa; (B) Northeast-Southwest, schematic cross section through the cave system, relative to several chert marker horizons; (C) Detailed map of the Dinaledi Chamber showing the orientation of the floor and the position of the excavation and sampling sites.DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09561.004
Mentions: The Rising Star cave system lies in the Bloubank River valley, 2.2 km west of Sterkfontein cave. It comprises an area of 250 × 150 m of mapped passageways situated in the core of a gently west dipping (17°) open fold, and is stratigraphically bound to a 15–20 m thick, stromatolitic dolomite horizon in the lower parts of the Monte Christo Formation (Eriksson et al., 2006; Figures 1B and 2A). This dolomite horizon is largely chert-free, but contains five thin (<10 cm) chert marker horizons that have been used to evaluate the relative position of chambers within the system (Figure 2B). The upper contact is marked by a 1–1.3 m-thick, capping chert unit that forms the roof of several large cave chambers. Surface mapping indicates that cave openings and flowstone-filled fractures do not penetrate this capping chert unit, except where a dextral fault truncates the stratigraphy to the south of the system (Figure 2). The network of cavities is developed along west-northwest, north and northwest trending fractures and joints.10.7554/eLife.09561.004Figure 2.Geological map and cross-section of the 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