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J Hum Evol ; 167: 103185, 2022 06.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-35489251


Several large-bodied hominin and nonhuman primates have coexisted in the Cradle of Humankind in South Africa during the Early Pleistocene. Previous paleoenvironmental studies regarding the Plio-Pleistocene of South Africa have focused heavily on mammal assemblages. Here, we conducted a comprehensive taxonomic analysis of the fossil bird remains from Cooper's D, the most fossiliferous locality of the hominin-bearing Cooper's Cave complex in South Africa. Our taxonomic evaluation of 505 remains reveals the presence of 23 bird taxa, two of which are extinct and already reported from the nearby fossil locality of Kromdraai. The taxonomically diverse bird assemblage is dominated by Francolinus sp. and other species associated with open grassland habitats, followed by rock-dwelling species, including Tyto cf. alba and the extinct Corvus bragai, and by woodland species such as Agapornis sp., Accipiter melanoleucos, and the extinct Glaucidium ireneae. The occurrence of these taxa and their respective proportions in the assemblage, in terms of both numbers of bones and individuals, point to the presence of extensive open grassland and/or savannah with rocky outcrops and woodland. These findings corroborate previous analyses of mammals from Cooper's D, with the exception of aquatic species, which are rare in the bird assemblage. Comparison with older deposits from Kromdraai confirms the definitive establishment of open habitats in the Cradle of Humankind during the Early Pleistocene following a transition from woodier habitats during the Late Pliocene. This study constitutes a further step in investigating the fossil bird diversity in the Cradle of Humankind during the Plio-Pleistocene. Our results add to the larger body of work using avian fossils for paleoenvironmental reconstructions in Africa and support the utility of birds as paleoenvironmental proxies. Similar future studies will refine our understanding of the paleoenvironments and landscape transformation during the Plio-Pleistocene, a critical timeframe for hominin evolution in southern Africa.

Fósseis , Hominidae , Animais , Aves , Mamíferos , África do Sul
PeerJ ; 7: e6909, 2019.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-31143541


Cooper's D is a fossil locality in the Bloubank Valley close to other important sites such as Sterkfontein and Kromdraai in Gauteng, South Africa. The fossil deposits of Cooper's D date to 1.38 ± 0.11 Ma. Hominins like Paranthropus robustus and early Homo have been recovered from Cooper's Cave. We report here on the Equidae remains. Our sample contains specimens from the extinct Equus capensis, and a specimen which represents an extinct hipparion Eurygnathohippus cf. cornelianus. This particular specimen was previously identified as plains zebra (Equus quagga). The contribution of Equidae to the total fossil assemblage of Cooper's D is relatively low, and these remains were likely accumulated by various predators such as spotted and brown hyenas and leopards. The Equidae, as well as the other fauna from Cooper's D supports the existence of grassland, wooded and water components in the vicinity of the site.

PLoS One ; 10(8): e0133361, 2015.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-26287673


A new partial cranium (UW 88-886) of the Plio-Pleistocene baboon Papio angusticeps from Malapa is identified, described and discussed. UW 88-886 represents the only non-hominin primate yet recovered from Malapa and is important both in the context of baboon evolution as well as South African hominin site biochronology. The new specimen may represent the first appearance of modern baboon anatomy and coincides almost perfectly with molecular divergence date estimates for the origin of the modern P. hamadryas radiation. The fact that the Malapa specimen is dated between ~2.026-2.36 million years ago (Ma) also has implications for the biochronology of other South African Plio-Pleistocene sites where P. angusticeps is found.

Hominidae/anatomia & histologia , Papio hamadryas/anatomia & histologia , Papio/anatomia & histologia , Crânio/anatomia & histologia , Animais , Evolução Biológica , Fósseis/anatomia & histologia , Cabeça/anatomia & histologia , África do Sul
J Hum Evol ; 56(5): 497-513, 2009 May.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-19443017


Australopithecus robustus is one of the best represented hominin taxa in Africa, with hundreds of specimens recovered from six fossil localities in the Bloubank Valley area of Gauteng Province, South Africa. However, precise geochronological ages are presently lacking for these fossil cave infills. In this paper, we provide a detailed geological background to a series of hominin fossils retrieved from the newly investigated deposit of Cooper's D (located partway between Sterkfontein and Kromdraai in the Bloubank Valley), including uranium-lead (U-Pb) ages for speleothem material associated with A. robustus. U-Pb dating of a basal speleothem underlying the entire deposit results in a maximum age of 1.526 (+/-0.088) Ma for Cooper's D. A second U-Pb date of ca. 1.4 Ma is produced from a flowstone layer above this basal speleothem; since this upper flowstone is not a capping flowstone, and fossiliferous sediments are preserved above this layer, some of the hominins might be slightly younger than the calculated age. As a result, we can broadly constrain the age of the hominins from Cooper's D to between 1.5 and approximately 1.4 Ma. Extinct fauna recorded in this comparatively young deposit raise the possibility that the Bloubank Valley region of South Africa represented a more stable environmental refugium for taxa relative to tectonically more active East Africa. The sediments of the deposit likely infilled rapidly during periods when arid conditions prevailed in the paleoenvironment, although it is unclear whether sediment deposition and bone deposition were necessarily contemporaneous occurrences. We reconstruct the paleoenvironment of Cooper's D as predominantly grassland, with nearby woodlands and a permanent water source. The hominin teeth recovered from Cooper's D are all from juveniles and can be confidently assigned to A. robustus. In addition, two juvenile mandibular fragments and an adult thoracic vertebra are tentatively attributed to A. robustus.

Fósseis , Hominidae/genética , Datação Radiométrica , Animais , Geologia , África do Sul
Am J Phys Anthropol ; 130(4): 435-44, 2006 Aug.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-16425189


SKW 18, a partial hominin cranium recovered from the site of Swartkrans, South Africa, in 1968 is described. It is derived from ex situ breccia of the Hanging Remnant of Member 1, dated to approximately 1.5-1.8 Mya. Although partially encased in breccia, it was refit to the facial fragment SK 52 (Clarke 1977 The Cranium of the Swartkrans Hominid SK 847 and Its Relevance to Human Origins, Ph.D. dissertation, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg), producing the composite cranium SKW 18/SK 52. Subsequent preparation revealed the most complete cranial base attributable to the species Australopithecus robustus. SKW 18 suffered weathering and slight postdepositional distortion, but retains considerable anatomical detail. The composite cranium most likely represents a large, subadult male, based on the incomplete fusion of the spheno-occipital synchondrosis; unerupted third molar; pronounced development of muscular insertions; and large teeth. Cranial base measures of SKW 18 expand the range of values previously recorded for A. robustus. SKW 18 provides information on anatomical features not previously visible in this taxon, and expands our knowledge of morphological variability recognizable in the cranial base. Morphological heterogeneity in the development of the prevertebral and nuchal muscular insertions is likely the result of sexual dimorphism in A. robustus, while differences in cranial base angles and the development of the occipital/marginal sinus drainage system cannot be attributed to size dimorphism.

Fósseis , Hominidae/anatomia & histologia , Base do Crânio/anatomia & histologia , Determinação da Idade pelo Esqueleto , Determinação da Idade pelos Dentes , Animais , Hominidae/classificação , Humanos , Masculino , Caracteres Sexuais , Determinação do Sexo pelo Esqueleto , África do Sul