First description of in situ primate and faunal remains from the Plio-Pleistocene Drimolen Makondo palaeocave infill, Gauteng, South Africa

Douglass S Rovinsky, Andrew I R Herries, Colin G Menter, Justin Winfield Adams

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The Drimolen palaeocave system has been actively excavated since the 1990s and has produced a demographically-diverse record of Paranthropus robustus, early Homo, and a substantial record of early Pleistocene bone tools; all recovered from the Main Quarry, a single fossil bearing deposit within the system. Early surveys identified an isolated solution-tube 55 meters west of the Main Quarry filled with decalcified matrix and fossils (the Drimolen Makondo). Recent excavations into the Makondo have started to address the geology, depositional history, and faunas of the deposits; particularly whether the Makondo represents a distant uneroded part of the Main Quarry infill, or deposits in-filled into a separate entrance within the same system. We present the first description of fossil macromammalian faunas from the Makondo, excavated 2013-2014. A total of 531 specimens were recovered, 268 (50.5 ) of which are taxonomically identifiable. The resulting list is diverse given the sample size and includes primate and carnivore taxa frequently recovered at other terminal Pliocene and earlier Pleistocene localities, as well as more rarely encountered species and elements like the first postcranial remains of the hunting hyaenid (Chasmaporthetes ?nitidula) from the Cradle. While some of the Makondo fauna overlaps with taxa recovered from the Main Quarry, there are key differences between the described samples that may reflect differences in the age of the deposits and/or taphonomic processes between these deposits at Drimolen. ? Palaeontological Association June 2015.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalPalaeontologia Electronica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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