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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

Examples of taphonomic traces recorded on hominin remains.(A) UW101–1288 tibial diaphysis showing evidence of mineral staining adhering to the cortex. The fossil shows evidence of dark zone sub-aerial or sub-surface weathering. Specimen shows a central midline crack with sediment infill, which separates conjoined manganese concretions. (B) UW101–419 (Cranium A[1]) showing iron oxide staining around the external auditory meatus. (C) UW101–312 and 1040 conjoined fragments of a tibial shaft, showing stepped transverse fracture (post-mortem) of the mid-shaft; note longitudinal crack, and evidence of invertebrate modification. (D) UW101–1288 tibial diaphysis showing a weathering pattern typical of Stage 1 evidenced by fine longitudinal cracks, without concomitant flaking, delamination, or the formation of fibrous texture. (E) UW101–1074 tibial shaft showing manganese mineral concretions overlying yellow staining across the diaphysis. (F) Specimen UW 101–419 Cranium A(1) displaying tide lines of dark brown, reddish brown and yellow staining, which extends across different vault fragment. (G) UW101–498 tibial shaft, showing comminuted post-mortem fracture/crushing preserved by sediment infiltrate. (H) UW101–1070 segment of tibial diaphysis displaying differential mineral staining patterns between conjoined fragments.DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09561.012
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fig10: Examples of taphonomic traces recorded on hominin remains.(A) UW101–1288 tibial diaphysis showing evidence of mineral staining adhering to the cortex. The fossil shows evidence of dark zone sub-aerial or sub-surface weathering. Specimen shows a central midline crack with sediment infill, which separates conjoined manganese concretions. (B) UW101–419 (Cranium A[1]) showing iron oxide staining around the external auditory meatus. (C) UW101–312 and 1040 conjoined fragments of a tibial shaft, showing stepped transverse fracture (post-mortem) of the mid-shaft; note longitudinal crack, and evidence of invertebrate modification. (D) UW101–1288 tibial diaphysis showing a weathering pattern typical of Stage 1 evidenced by fine longitudinal cracks, without concomitant flaking, delamination, or the formation of fibrous texture. (E) UW101–1074 tibial shaft showing manganese mineral concretions overlying yellow staining across the diaphysis. (F) Specimen UW 101–419 Cranium A(1) displaying tide lines of dark brown, reddish brown and yellow staining, which extends across different vault fragment. (G) UW101–498 tibial shaft, showing comminuted post-mortem fracture/crushing preserved by sediment infiltrate. (H) UW101–1070 segment of tibial diaphysis displaying differential mineral staining patterns between conjoined fragments.DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09561.012

Mentions: The hominin assemblage is homogeneous in terms of surface preservation and condition (Figures 10 and 11), suggesting that the remains share a similar depositional history (i.e., the disarticulated vs articulated material does not vary significantly in terms of surface preservation). The structural state of the material is classified as good, and surface morphology is retained for many of the specimens (i.e., no plastic deformation has been observed), even though they were water logged and friable at recovery. The bones are generally, partially mineralised; there is no evidence of calcite crystal formation in or on bones, but some bones and teeth are dotted with black iron-manganese oxi-hydroxide deposits and coatings (e.g., Figure 10), and an orange-colour residue of iron oxide (e.g., Figure 10B). Colouration of the bone underlying surficial mineral deposits ranges from light grey to red-brown. The internal structure of bones is bright white in colour.


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)

Examples of taphonomic traces recorded on hominin remains.(A) UW101–1288 tibial diaphysis showing evidence of mineral staining adhering to the cortex. The fossil shows evidence of dark zone sub-aerial or sub-surface weathering. Specimen shows a central midline crack with sediment infill, which separates conjoined manganese concretions. (B) UW101–419 (Cranium A[1]) showing iron oxide staining around the external auditory meatus. (C) UW101–312 and 1040 conjoined fragments of a tibial shaft, showing stepped transverse fracture (post-mortem) of the mid-shaft; note longitudinal crack, and evidence of invertebrate modification. (D) UW101–1288 tibial diaphysis showing a weathering pattern typical of Stage 1 evidenced by fine longitudinal cracks, without concomitant flaking, delamination, or the formation of fibrous texture. (E) UW101–1074 tibial shaft showing manganese mineral concretions overlying yellow staining across the diaphysis. (F) Specimen UW 101–419 Cranium A(1) displaying tide lines of dark brown, reddish brown and yellow staining, which extends across different vault fragment. (G) UW101–498 tibial shaft, showing comminuted post-mortem fracture/crushing preserved by sediment infiltrate. (H) UW101–1070 segment of tibial diaphysis displaying differential mineral staining patterns between conjoined fragments.DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09561.012
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

fig10: Examples of taphonomic traces recorded on hominin remains.(A) UW101–1288 tibial diaphysis showing evidence of mineral staining adhering to the cortex. The fossil shows evidence of dark zone sub-aerial or sub-surface weathering. Specimen shows a central midline crack with sediment infill, which separates conjoined manganese concretions. (B) UW101–419 (Cranium A[1]) showing iron oxide staining around the external auditory meatus. (C) UW101–312 and 1040 conjoined fragments of a tibial shaft, showing stepped transverse fracture (post-mortem) of the mid-shaft; note longitudinal crack, and evidence of invertebrate modification. (D) UW101–1288 tibial diaphysis showing a weathering pattern typical of Stage 1 evidenced by fine longitudinal cracks, without concomitant flaking, delamination, or the formation of fibrous texture. (E) UW101–1074 tibial shaft showing manganese mineral concretions overlying yellow staining across the diaphysis. (F) Specimen UW 101–419 Cranium A(1) displaying tide lines of dark brown, reddish brown and yellow staining, which extends across different vault fragment. (G) UW101–498 tibial shaft, showing comminuted post-mortem fracture/crushing preserved by sediment infiltrate. (H) UW101–1070 segment of tibial diaphysis displaying differential mineral staining patterns between conjoined fragments.DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09561.012
Mentions: The hominin assemblage is homogeneous in terms of surface preservation and condition (Figures 10 and 11), suggesting that the remains share a similar depositional history (i.e., the disarticulated vs articulated material does not vary significantly in terms of surface preservation). The structural state of the material is classified as good, and surface morphology is retained for many of the specimens (i.e., no plastic deformation has been observed), even though they were water logged and friable at recovery. The bones are generally, partially mineralised; there is no evidence of calcite crystal formation in or on bones, but some bones and teeth are dotted with black iron-manganese oxi-hydroxide deposits and coatings (e.g., Figure 10), and an orange-colour residue of iron oxide (e.g., Figure 10B). Colouration of the bone underlying surficial mineral deposits ranges from light grey to red-brown. The internal structure of bones is bright white in colour.

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