Taphonomic and paleoecological change in the large mammal sequence from Boomplaas Cave, western Cape, South Africa

Faith, J. Tyler (2013) Taphonomic and paleoecological change in the large mammal sequence from Boomplaas Cave, western Cape, South Africa. Journal of Human Evolution, 65 6: 715-730. doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2013.09.001

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Author Faith, J. Tyler
Title Taphonomic and paleoecological change in the large mammal sequence from Boomplaas Cave, western Cape, South Africa
Journal name Journal of Human Evolution   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0047-2484
Publication date 2013-12-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.jhevol.2013.09.001
Volume 65
Issue 6
Start page 715
End page 730
Total pages 16
Place of publication Camden, London, United Kingdom
Publisher Academic Press
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Excavations conducted by H.J. Deacon in the 1970s at Boomplaas Cave (BPA) uncovered a stratified sequence of Middle Stone Age (MSA) and Later Stone Age (LSA) deposits spanning the last >65,000 years. This study provides the first comprehensive and integrated taphonomic and paleoecological analysis of the BPA large mammals, with a focus on its implications for understanding human adaptations and environmental changes in southern Africa's Cape Floristic Region (CFR), an area that features prominently in understanding modern human origins. Taphonomic data indicate a complex history of human, carnivore, and raptor accumulation of the large mammal assemblage. The anthropogenic signal is largely absent from the bottom of the sequence (>65,000 years ago), intermediate in MSA and LSA assemblages from ∼50,000 to 20,000 years ago, and strong in LSA deposits post-dating the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). When viewed in the broader CFR context, the inferred occupation history of BPA is consistent with the hypothesis that both MSA and LSA human populations were concentrated on the submerged coastline from ∼60,000 to ∼20,000 years ago. Intensive occupation following the LGM parallels an apparent increase in regional population densities, which may have been driven in part by rising sea levels. The BPA ungulate assemblage is characterized by the rise and decline of a taxonomically diverse grazing community, which peaks during the LGM. These changes are not correlated with taphonomic shifts, meaning that they are likely driven by environmental factors, namely the expansion and contraction of grassland habitats. Changes in ungulate diversity indicate that effective precipitation was highest during the LGM, corresponding with an intensified winter rainfall system. This is consistent with recent arguments that the LGM in this region may not have been extremely harsh and arid.
Keyword Cape Floristic region
Howiesons Poort
Last glacial maximum
Later Stone Age
Middle Stone Age
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2014 Collection
School of Social Science Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 24 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 27 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Mon, 18 Nov 2013, 21:15:35 EST by Tyler Faith on behalf of School of Social Science