TitleThe larger mammal fossil assemblages from Beds III and IV, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania
NamePante, Michael C. (author), Blumenschine, Robert J. (chair), Harris, John W.K. (internal member), Scott, Robert (internal member), Stanistreet, Ian (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania)--Antiquities
DescriptionThis dissertation represents the first taphonomically-informed assessment of the feeding behavior of Homo erectus. Until now studies of the feeding behavior of Early Stone Age hominins based on the assemblage-wide proportions of tooth, cut, and percussion marks have focused on Oldowan sites attributed to Homo habilis leaving assessments of the subsistence capabilities of Homo erectus to inference. This trend is the direct result of the river/channel depositional settings for most sites that are attributed to Homo erectus and the lack of a theoretically-grounded basis for interpreting fossil assemblages from such sites. Using a flume I have generated the first experimental sample designed to interpret bone assemblages that were modified by hominins and carnivores and subsequently disturbed by flowing water. Results show that the transportability of bone fragments is inversely related to the size of bone fragments as measured by length, width, cortical thickness, and indirectly by the size group of the carcass from which the fragments were generated. More importantly, fluvial processes should not significantly alter the assemblage-wide proportions of tooth, cut, and percussion marks in low-energy fluvial environments. The results of flume experiments are applied here in the first taphonomic analysis of the larger mammal fossil assemblages from JK2, Bed III and WK, Bed IV, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. The results for both sites indicate that Homo erectus likely acquired earlier access to carcasses than its Oldowan hominin ancestors. However, only the younger WK site exhibits evidence for cooking indicating that the feeding behavior of the species was continually evolving. The significance of this research lies not only in the results reported for the Bed III and IV fossil assemblages, but also in the methodology that was developed to interpret the results, which is broadly applicable to archaeological sites regardless of age or geographic location. Further application of these methods will allow paleoanthropologists to track the increasingly pervasive role played by Homo erectus in the larger carnivore guild. For it is through this research that the social behavior of the species may ultimately be revealed and a greater understanding of our own behavior and societies can be obtained.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Michael C. Pante
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.