TitleEcological and behavioral implications of new archaeological occurrences from Upper burgi exposures at Koobi Fora, Kenya
NameMcCoy, Jack Thomas (author), Harris, John (chair), Blumenschine, Robert (internal member), Feibel, Craig (internal member), Bobe, Rene (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Paleontology--Kenya--Koobi Fora Formation,
DescriptionThe appearance of the genus Homo is a landmark event in human evolution. While extensive research has been conducted regarding the physical evolution of this genus, there has been little research into evolving behaviors that may have differentiated Homo from the earlier hominins. Australopithecines were present in East Africa from about 4.4 million years ago to perhaps 0.7 million years ago, but there is presently no evidence of tool use (stone tools or modified bone) prior to 2.5 million years ago. The introduction of significant amounts of meat into the diet coupled with the use of stone tools near the end of the Pliocene may represent early behaviors that define the genus Homo. The exposed sediments of the Upper Burgi Member at Koobi Fora provide a unique opportunity to study the factors that drove the onset of this behavior. Koobi Fora has yielded a continuous paleontological record of hominin evolution that extends back over 4 million years, including early Homo fossil skulls KNM-ER-1470 and KNM-ER-1813. However, there has been no systematic archaeological research conducted in the time interval prior to 1.9 million years ago when the Upper Burgi Member sediments were deposited.
This research addresses that void through a systematic ecological, geological, and archaeological study of specific Upper Burgi exposures. Surface survey and excavation produced fossil flora and fauna from these ancient sediments enabling detailed reconstruction of animal communities and hominin habitat. Fossil bones of animals exploited for food preserve unequivocal evidence of hominin modification during butchery and these modified bones are the archaeological traces that this research utilized to identify hominin presence on the landscape and associated habitat utilization. This study focuses on evolving behavior defined by these new archaeological traces to make meaningful inferences about changing diet and foraging strategies at geographically widespread locations across the ancient Upper Burgi landscape. Utilizing the data developed in this research together with published data from other late Pliocene sites in Kenya and Ethiopia, a model of this unique behavior is hypothesized for this specific region of East Africa.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 292-305)
Noteby Jack Thomas McCoy
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.