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Environmental, ecological, and paleoanthropological implications of the late Pleistocene mammalian fauna from Equus Cave, northern Cape Province, South Africa

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Richard G. Klein
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago, 1126 East 59th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60637
Kathryn Cruz-Uribe
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, Box 15200, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona 86011
Peter B. Beaumont
Affiliation:
McGregor Museum, P.O. Box 316, Kimberley 8300, South Africa

Abstract

The late Pleistocene deposits of Equus Cave, northern Cape Province, South Africa, have provided more than 30,000 taxonomically identifiable mammal bones from 48 species. Context, associations, and features of the bone assemblage implicate brown hyenas as the main accumulators. The fauna is significant mainly because (1) it supplements previous evidence that regional climate was cooler and possibly also somewhat moister during part(s) of the late Pleistocene, but deviated less from the historic norm than in areas farther south; (2) it shows that Bond's springbok, which became extinct in the early Holocene, differed from the surviving common springbok not only in important morphological respects but also in reproductive pattern; and (3) it sustains earlier suggestions that an abundance of carnivores, a paucity of small hard bones, and increase in the cranial/postcranial ratio with species size, and exclusively attritional mortality profiles are features that tend to differentiate assemblages accumulated by brown hyenas from those accumulated by people. In addition, pending firmer dating, the fragmentary human fossils from Equus Cave may support an exclusively African origin for anatomically modern humans.

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University of Washington

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Environmental, ecological, and paleoanthropological implications of the late Pleistocene mammalian fauna from Equus Cave, northern Cape Province, South Africa
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