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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

Comparative examples of surface modifications on bone made by modern snails and beetles and their larvae after four months in controlled experiments.Gastropods and beetles were found to produce similar modifications to those observed on the Rising Star hominin remains, and remove the surfaces of fresh, dry and fossil bones to an equal degree (see Figure 11). (A) Dry bovid rib showing surface removal associated with evenly spaced, multiple parallel striations made by the radula of an Achatina (land snail). (B) Fresh sheep bone that was originally covered with tissue showing how Helix aspersa (garden snails) have removed the outer cortical lamellae to produce an etched appearance and create circular shallow pits with smooth and striated bases. (C) Dry bovid rib showing shallow, evenly spaced, multiple parallel striations produced by Achatina. (D) Dry bird femur showing large individual striations that are variably arrow-shaped and often overlap, made by Omorgus squalidus (hide beetles). (E) A weathered bovid tooth showing surface removal with a scalloped edge produced by Dermestes maculatus larvae, and with a straight edge associated with scrape marks. (F) Scrape marks created by a D. maculatus adult beetle mandible on a dry medium-sized bovid long bone flake. The scale bar in all samples equals 1 mm.DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09561.014
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fig12: Comparative examples of surface modifications on bone made by modern snails and beetles and their larvae after four months in controlled experiments.Gastropods and beetles were found to produce similar modifications to those observed on the Rising Star hominin remains, and remove the surfaces of fresh, dry and fossil bones to an equal degree (see Figure 11). (A) Dry bovid rib showing surface removal associated with evenly spaced, multiple parallel striations made by the radula of an Achatina (land snail). (B) Fresh sheep bone that was originally covered with tissue showing how Helix aspersa (garden snails) have removed the outer cortical lamellae to produce an etched appearance and create circular shallow pits with smooth and striated bases. (C) Dry bovid rib showing shallow, evenly spaced, multiple parallel striations produced by Achatina. (D) Dry bird femur showing large individual striations that are variably arrow-shaped and often overlap, made by Omorgus squalidus (hide beetles). (E) A weathered bovid tooth showing surface removal with a scalloped edge produced by Dermestes maculatus larvae, and with a straight edge associated with scrape marks. (F) Scrape marks created by a D. maculatus adult beetle mandible on a dry medium-sized bovid long bone flake. The scale bar in all samples equals 1 mm.DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09561.014

Mentions: (A) Removal of the bone surface with sets of shallow, evenly spaced, multiple parallel striations on fibula (UW101–1037), which run longitudinal with the main axis of the bone and are interpreted as gastropod radula damage. (B) Fibula (UW101–1037) showing removal of the bone surface with sets of shallow, evenly spaced, multiple parallel striations that follow the collagen fibres together with shallow circular pits ranging from 0.1 to 3 mm in diameter, the bases of which may be smooth, cupped, or covered with multiple parallel striations. These features have been attributed to gastropod radula damage. (C) Tibia (UW101–484) showing removal of the bone surface with sets of shallow, striations that show a smooth scalloped edge together with circular pits ranging from 0.1 to 3 mm in diameter interpreted as the result of gnawing by beetle larvae. (D) Tibia (UW101–484) with areas of surface removal that have a straight edge associated with scrape marks interpreted as damage made by a beetle mandible. (E) Fibula (UW101–1037) with sets of shallow, evenly spaced, multiple parallel striations orientated transverse to the long axis of the bone interpreted as gastropod radula damage, resulting in an etched surface appearance that exposes underlying structures. (F) Tibia (UW101–484) showing clusters of large individual striations that are variably arrow-shaped and often overlap, interpreted as damage made by a beetle mandible. Compare with Figure 12 which shows surface modifications made by modern snails and beetles and their larvae. The scale bar in all samples equals 1 mm.


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)

Comparative examples of surface modifications on bone made by modern snails and beetles and their larvae after four months in controlled experiments.Gastropods and beetles were found to produce similar modifications to those observed on the Rising Star hominin remains, and remove the surfaces of fresh, dry and fossil bones to an equal degree (see Figure 11). (A) Dry bovid rib showing surface removal associated with evenly spaced, multiple parallel striations made by the radula of an Achatina (land snail). (B) Fresh sheep bone that was originally covered with tissue showing how Helix aspersa (garden snails) have removed the outer cortical lamellae to produce an etched appearance and create circular shallow pits with smooth and striated bases. (C) Dry bovid rib showing shallow, evenly spaced, multiple parallel striations produced by Achatina. (D) Dry bird femur showing large individual striations that are variably arrow-shaped and often overlap, made by Omorgus squalidus (hide beetles). (E) A weathered bovid tooth showing surface removal with a scalloped edge produced by Dermestes maculatus larvae, and with a straight edge associated with scrape marks. (F) Scrape marks created by a D. maculatus adult beetle mandible on a dry medium-sized bovid long bone flake. The scale bar in all samples equals 1 mm.DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09561.014
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

fig12: Comparative examples of surface modifications on bone made by modern snails and beetles and their larvae after four months in controlled experiments.Gastropods and beetles were found to produce similar modifications to those observed on the Rising Star hominin remains, and remove the surfaces of fresh, dry and fossil bones to an equal degree (see Figure 11). (A) Dry bovid rib showing surface removal associated with evenly spaced, multiple parallel striations made by the radula of an Achatina (land snail). (B) Fresh sheep bone that was originally covered with tissue showing how Helix aspersa (garden snails) have removed the outer cortical lamellae to produce an etched appearance and create circular shallow pits with smooth and striated bases. (C) Dry bovid rib showing shallow, evenly spaced, multiple parallel striations produced by Achatina. (D) Dry bird femur showing large individual striations that are variably arrow-shaped and often overlap, made by Omorgus squalidus (hide beetles). (E) A weathered bovid tooth showing surface removal with a scalloped edge produced by Dermestes maculatus larvae, and with a straight edge associated with scrape marks. (F) Scrape marks created by a D. maculatus adult beetle mandible on a dry medium-sized bovid long bone flake. The scale bar in all samples equals 1 mm.DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.09561.014
Mentions: (A) Removal of the bone surface with sets of shallow, evenly spaced, multiple parallel striations on fibula (UW101–1037), which run longitudinal with the main axis of the bone and are interpreted as gastropod radula damage. (B) Fibula (UW101–1037) showing removal of the bone surface with sets of shallow, evenly spaced, multiple parallel striations that follow the collagen fibres together with shallow circular pits ranging from 0.1 to 3 mm in diameter, the bases of which may be smooth, cupped, or covered with multiple parallel striations. These features have been attributed to gastropod radula damage. (C) Tibia (UW101–484) showing removal of the bone surface with sets of shallow, striations that show a smooth scalloped edge together with circular pits ranging from 0.1 to 3 mm in diameter interpreted as the result of gnawing by beetle larvae. (D) Tibia (UW101–484) with areas of surface removal that have a straight edge associated with scrape marks interpreted as damage made by a beetle mandible. (E) Fibula (UW101–1037) with sets of shallow, evenly spaced, multiple parallel striations orientated transverse to the long axis of the bone interpreted as gastropod radula damage, resulting in an etched surface appearance that exposes underlying structures. (F) Tibia (UW101–484) showing clusters of large individual striations that are variably arrow-shaped and often overlap, interpreted as damage made by a beetle mandible. Compare with Figure 12 which shows surface modifications made by modern snails and beetles and their larvae. The scale bar in all samples equals 1 mm.

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