Taphonomic estimates of competition and the role of carnivore avoidance in hominin site use within the Early Pleistocene Olduvai Basin

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Charles P. Egeland, Associate Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: It has become increasingly clear among paleoanthropologists that Early Pleistocene sites sample a diversity of behaviors and no one model is sufficient to explain every collection of archaeological debris. With this comes the realization that hominins reacted to an equally diverse set of ecological parameters, each of which determined to some extent where, when, and how they chose to concentrate, or not concentrate, their activities across ancient landscapes. Competition with, and predation risk from, large carnivores is thought to be an especially critical factor, particularly when large mammal tissues became a component of hominin diets after 2.6 million years ago. Here, the degree to which carnivore avoidance influenced patterns of hominin site use is evaluated with a sample of faunal and lithic assemblages from Beds I and II at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Multivariate measures of bone destruction, as proxies for levels of on-site competition and thus predation risk, show little systematic relationship with patterns of lithic discard and butchery. This suggests that while carnivore avoidance was probably part and parcel of hominin daily life in the Early Pleistocene Olduvai Basin, other considerations such as water, tree cover, dry land, and toolstone played more proximate roles.

Additional Information

Quaternary International 322/323, 95-106
Language: English
Date: 2014
Olduvai Gorge, Early Pleistocene, carnivore competition, hominin diet

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