Palaeoanthro-geology : age and palaeoenvironment of our human ancestors in Africa
South Africa has a rich record of our early human (hominin) Plio-Plesitocene ancestors consisting of both fossils and archaeological collections of stone tools. These remains are found in caves sites and open air deposits and have been the subject of much study, as have similar deposits in East Africa. The most prominent gap in the South African record has been the lack of accurate and precise dating methods applicable to the sites. Without a firm chronology, meaningful comparisons between different South African sites and between the South African record and that from the rest of Africa are limited. Previously dating relied on correlating similar species from sites in East and South Africa and assuming that they were contemporary. Now that a dating framework is beginning to emerge this is slowly being shown to not be the case and the uniqueness of the South African record can for the first time be fully explored and compared with other regions of Africa. Another area of current research is into the links between hominin evolution and environmental change resulting from climatic shifts. It is very important to recover and interpret whatever records remain of such changes, however, our knowledge in this area is still extremely sporadic. The value of well¬dated, (semi) continuous, palaeoclimate records from all over Africa, both on and off-shore, cannot be overestimated. A growing body of research into the context, age and palaeoenvironments of hominin sites from across Africa is beginning address these challenges. |In this session we welcome submissions on all geological aspects of palaeoanthropology, from all over Africa, ranging from dating hominin sites, to palaeodiet reconstructions from isotopes on teeth, to detailed studies of the conditions under which fossils are preserved. Research focusing on new techniques, multi-disciplinary collaborations and innovative approaches are encouraged, as well as submissions by students and early career researchers.
Robyn Pickering and Andy Herries