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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

Taphonomic spatial patterning within the fossil assemblage exposed in the excavation pit.Taphonomic signatures and spatial orientations suggest that some of the assemblage may be para-authochthonous in nature, rather than primary or in situ. This scenario provides a mechanism for explaining the combination of near- or fully-anatomically articulated skeletal material and elements, which are heavily commingled and in a non-horizontal resting state (from near-vertical to oblique long-axis orientations). (A) Example of an articulated ankle region. (B) Example of an articulated hand. (C) Example of cluster of skeletal elements showing disarticulated elements in a non-horizontal resting state. Note long bone fragment in near-vertical alignment, compared to normal horizontal or near-horizontal alignment of the commingled elements surrounding it. Labels denote specimen numbers.DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09561.011
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fig9: Taphonomic spatial patterning within the fossil assemblage exposed in the excavation pit.Taphonomic signatures and spatial orientations suggest that some of the assemblage may be para-authochthonous in nature, rather than primary or in situ. This scenario provides a mechanism for explaining the combination of near- or fully-anatomically articulated skeletal material and elements, which are heavily commingled and in a non-horizontal resting state (from near-vertical to oblique long-axis orientations). (A) Example of an articulated ankle region. (B) Example of an articulated hand. (C) Example of cluster of skeletal elements showing disarticulated elements in a non-horizontal resting state. Note long bone fragment in near-vertical alignment, compared to normal horizontal or near-horizontal alignment of the commingled elements surrounding it. Labels denote specimen numbers.DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09561.011

Mentions: (A) distribution of concentrations of bone fragments of H. naledi along the floor of the Dinaledi Chamber. The positions of maps (B) and (C), (D) are shown relative to survey pegs 1 and 2 respectively. (B) Concentration of long bone fragments encountered next to a rock embedded in Unit 3 sediment. (C) Distribution of fossils in the excavation pit at the start of the excavations in November 2013 (∼5 cm below surface). (D) Distribution of fossils in the excavation pit during excavations in March 2014 (∼15 cm below surface); the long-bone in the central part of the pit is in a near-vertical position and is shown in Figure 9C.


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)

Taphonomic spatial patterning within the fossil assemblage exposed in the excavation pit.Taphonomic signatures and spatial orientations suggest that some of the assemblage may be para-authochthonous in nature, rather than primary or in situ. This scenario provides a mechanism for explaining the combination of near- or fully-anatomically articulated skeletal material and elements, which are heavily commingled and in a non-horizontal resting state (from near-vertical to oblique long-axis orientations). (A) Example of an articulated ankle region. (B) Example of an articulated hand. (C) Example of cluster of skeletal elements showing disarticulated elements in a non-horizontal resting state. Note long bone fragment in near-vertical alignment, compared to normal horizontal or near-horizontal alignment of the commingled elements surrounding it. Labels denote specimen numbers.DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09561.011
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

fig9: Taphonomic spatial patterning within the fossil assemblage exposed in the excavation pit.Taphonomic signatures and spatial orientations suggest that some of the assemblage may be para-authochthonous in nature, rather than primary or in situ. This scenario provides a mechanism for explaining the combination of near- or fully-anatomically articulated skeletal material and elements, which are heavily commingled and in a non-horizontal resting state (from near-vertical to oblique long-axis orientations). (A) Example of an articulated ankle region. (B) Example of an articulated hand. (C) Example of cluster of skeletal elements showing disarticulated elements in a non-horizontal resting state. Note long bone fragment in near-vertical alignment, compared to normal horizontal or near-horizontal alignment of the commingled elements surrounding it. Labels denote specimen numbers.DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09561.011
Mentions: (A) distribution of concentrations of bone fragments of H. naledi along the floor of the Dinaledi Chamber. The positions of maps (B) and (C), (D) are shown relative to survey pegs 1 and 2 respectively. (B) Concentration of long bone fragments encountered next to a rock embedded in Unit 3 sediment. (C) Distribution of fossils in the excavation pit at the start of the excavations in November 2013 (∼5 cm below surface). (D) Distribution of fossils in the excavation pit during excavations in March 2014 (∼15 cm below surface); the long-bone in the central part of the pit is in a near-vertical position and is shown in Figure 9C.

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