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Title:A taphonomic investigation of aquatic reptiles (Crocodylus, Trionyx, and Pelusios) at Lake Turkana, Kenya: Significance for early hominid ecology at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania
Author(s):West, Jolee Ann
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Giles, Eugene
Department / Program:Anthropology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Anthropology, Archaeology
Anthropology, Physical
Abstract:Crocodile and turtles are well represented at a number of the Olduvai archaeological sites, although the nature of their association with the lithic artifacts and the other faunal materials has never been investigated using taphonomic methodology. This thesis presents the results of an investigation of the taphonomic factors affecting the preservation and composition of aquatic reptile bone assemblages, particularly Crocodylus, Pelusios, and Trionyx, their potential contribution to early hominid diet, and significance for palaeoenvironmental reconstructions.
The field research, carried out along the eastern shores of Lake Turkana, Kenya, realized three main objectives: (1) a survey of modern surface assemblages of aquatic reptile remains, (2) a survey and study of aquatic reptile carcasses in "kill-site" contexts, and (3) a survey and mapping of short-term occupation sites of modern people utilizing aquatic reptiles in their diet. These data provide baseline expectations for aquatic reptile remains in various accumulative contexts and allow for the investigation of the biases in sampling and preservation potential that are specific to these taxa as a result of their physiology, habitats, and exposure to predation.
The results of the taphonomic study are used to investigate the nature of aquatic reptile remains from various Olduvai Bed I and II archaeological sites. Specifically, this research addresses the site formation processes that operated at particular Olduvai sites, and examines previously offered models of early hominid land-use in light of the evidence for hominid involvement in the accumulation of aquatic reptiles.
A new model for the activities of early hominids in the Olduvai Basin during Bed I and Lower Bed II times is offered that brings together archaeological, anatomical, and palaeoenvironmental data indicating that early Homo was restricted to foraging in lake-margin habitats, and that the evolution of H. erectus can be directly linked to the loss of this favored habitat and concomitant anatomical and behavioral adaptations to increasing aridity during Bed II times.
Issue Date:1995
Rights Information:Copyright 1995 West, Jolee Ann
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9543769
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9543769

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