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Title: Strontium isotope investigation of ungulate movement patterns on the Pleistocene Paleo-Agulhas Plain of the Greater Cape Floristic Region, South Africa

Abstract

Middle Stone Age sites located within the Greater Cape Floristic Region on the South African southern coast have material culture with early evidence for key modern human behaviors such as projectile weaponry, large animal hunting, and symbolic behavior. In order to interpret how and why these changes evolved, it is necessary to understand their ecological context as it has direct relevance to foraging behavior. During periods of lowered sea level, a largely flat and vast expanse of land existed south of the modern coastline, but it is now submerged by higher sea levels. This exposed area, the Paleo-Agulhas Plain, likely created an ecological context unlike anything in the region today, as evidenced by fossil assemblages dominated by migratory ungulates. One hypothesis is that the Paleo-Agulhas Plain supported a migration ecosystem of large grazers driven by summer rainfall, producing palatable forage during summer in the east, and winter rainfall, producing palatable forage during winter in the west. Furthermore, ungulates may have been moving from the coastal plain in the south to the interior north of the Cape Fold Mountains, as observed for elephants in historic times.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [2];  [3];  [4];  [5];  [6];  [7];  [8]
  1. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States); Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, CO (United States)
  2. Council for Geoscience, Bellville (South Africa); Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Univ., Port Elizabeth (South Africa)
  3. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Univ., Port Elizabeth (South Africa); Arizona State Univ., Tempe, AZ (United States); Univ. of the Witwatersrand, Wits (South Africa)
  4. Univ. of Oxford, Oxford (United Kingdom)
  5. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Univ., Port Elizabeth (South Africa)
  6. Univ. of Cape Town, Cape Town (South Africa)
  7. Univ. of Colorado, Denver, CO (United States)
  8. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Univ., Port Elizabeth (South Africa); Arizona State Univ., Tempe, AZ (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1255252
Report Number(s):
LA-UR-15-27713
Journal ID: ISSN 0277-3791
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC52-06NA25396
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Quaternary Science Reviews
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 141; Journal Issue: C; Journal ID: ISSN 0277-3791
Publisher:
Elsevier
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 58 GEOSCIENCES; archaeology

Citation Formats

Copeland, Sandi R., Cawthra, Hayley C., Fisher, Erich C., Lee-Thorp, Julia A., Cowling, Richard M., le Roux, Petrus J., Hodgkins, Jamie, and Marean, Curtis W. Strontium isotope investigation of ungulate movement patterns on the Pleistocene Paleo-Agulhas Plain of the Greater Cape Floristic Region, South Africa. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.04.002.
Copeland, Sandi R., Cawthra, Hayley C., Fisher, Erich C., Lee-Thorp, Julia A., Cowling, Richard M., le Roux, Petrus J., Hodgkins, Jamie, & Marean, Curtis W. Strontium isotope investigation of ungulate movement patterns on the Pleistocene Paleo-Agulhas Plain of the Greater Cape Floristic Region, South Africa. United States. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.04.002.
Copeland, Sandi R., Cawthra, Hayley C., Fisher, Erich C., Lee-Thorp, Julia A., Cowling, Richard M., le Roux, Petrus J., Hodgkins, Jamie, and Marean, Curtis W. Sat . "Strontium isotope investigation of ungulate movement patterns on the Pleistocene Paleo-Agulhas Plain of the Greater Cape Floristic Region, South Africa". United States. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.04.002. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1255252.
@article{osti_1255252,
title = {Strontium isotope investigation of ungulate movement patterns on the Pleistocene Paleo-Agulhas Plain of the Greater Cape Floristic Region, South Africa},
author = {Copeland, Sandi R. and Cawthra, Hayley C. and Fisher, Erich C. and Lee-Thorp, Julia A. and Cowling, Richard M. and le Roux, Petrus J. and Hodgkins, Jamie and Marean, Curtis W.},
abstractNote = {Middle Stone Age sites located within the Greater Cape Floristic Region on the South African southern coast have material culture with early evidence for key modern human behaviors such as projectile weaponry, large animal hunting, and symbolic behavior. In order to interpret how and why these changes evolved, it is necessary to understand their ecological context as it has direct relevance to foraging behavior. During periods of lowered sea level, a largely flat and vast expanse of land existed south of the modern coastline, but it is now submerged by higher sea levels. This exposed area, the Paleo-Agulhas Plain, likely created an ecological context unlike anything in the region today, as evidenced by fossil assemblages dominated by migratory ungulates. One hypothesis is that the Paleo-Agulhas Plain supported a migration ecosystem of large grazers driven by summer rainfall, producing palatable forage during summer in the east, and winter rainfall, producing palatable forage during winter in the west. Furthermore, ungulates may have been moving from the coastal plain in the south to the interior north of the Cape Fold Mountains, as observed for elephants in historic times.},
doi = {10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.04.002},
journal = {Quaternary Science Reviews},
number = C,
volume = 141,
place = {United States},
year = {2016},
month = {4}
}

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Works referencing / citing this record:

The transition to foraging for dense and predictable resources and its impact on the evolution of modern humans
journal, July 2016

  • Marean, Curtis W.
  • Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Vol. 371, Issue 1698
  • DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2015.0239

The transition to foraging for dense and predictable resources and its impact on the evolution of modern humans
journal, July 2016

  • Marean, Curtis W.
  • Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Vol. 371, Issue 1698
  • DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2015.0239