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Complexities of assessing palaeocave stratigraphy: reconstructing site formation of the ∼2.61 Ma Drimolen Makondo fossil site

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posted on 2021-01-22, 00:38 authored by Ashleigh MurszewskiAshleigh Murszewski, Giovanni Boschian, Andrew HerriesAndrew Herries
© Copyright 2020 Murszewski et al. Palaeocave sites in South Africa are world renowned repositories for palaeontological and archaeological material, dating from the terminal Pliocene to the Early Pleistocene. Due to their antiquity, complex karstification history and multifaceted infilling phases, palaeocave sites are notoriously difficult to contextualise. Further to this, 19th century lime-mining and diverse excavation and sampling techniques, have complicated stratigraphic interpretations of fossil-bearing deposits within the region. Locating and assessing newly discovered, minimally disturbed palaeocave sites allow for contextual information to be gathered with greater confidence and can aid in constructing a more robust understanding of the South African fossil record. Here, we use Drimolen Makondo; a minimally lime-mined ∼2.61 Ma palaeontological site, to apply a series of in-depth stratigraphic and micromorphological studies. Contextual data presented within this study, testifies to a relatively rapid infill with greater fluvial activity when compared to adjacent deposits at the younger ∼2.04-1.95 Ma Drimolen Main Quarry. The quantity of articulated macromammalian remains, high density of micromammalian remains and pollen identified, also highlights Drimolen Makondo as a key site for ongoing palaeoenvironmental studies at the Pliocene to Pleistocene transition in South Africa.


This research was funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant DP170100056 to Prof. Andy Herries, an Australian Archaeological Association postgraduate grant to Dr. Ashleigh Murszewski, as well as a La Trobe University Postgraduate Research Scholarship and a La Trobe University Internal Research grant to Dr. Ashleigh Murszewski. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.


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