Stable isotope evidence for mid-Pleistocene paleoenvironmental conditions at the site of Kathu Pan 1 (central interior, South Africa)

Nyebe E. Mohale, Daryl Codron, Liora K. Horwitz

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3 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study investigates the Mid-Pleistocene paleoenvironment and dietary behaviour of ancient herbivores in the South African central interior, today part of the semi-arid Kalahari savanna. Analyses were undertaken of carbon (δ13C) and oxygen (δ18O) stable isotopes in tooth enamel carbonate of twelve fossil herbivore species from Layers 4b and 4a, associated with Earlier Stone Age (ESA) and transitional ESA-Middle Stone Age (Fauresmith) industries respectively, at the archaeological site of Kathu Pan 1. The data are compared with other Eearly to Mid-Pleistocene herbivore assemblages located in the central interior, namely Cornelia-Uitzoek, Wonderwerk Cave and the Florisbad Spring. Results indicate that the median δ13C values for all ungulate taxa at Kathu were >-4‰, indicating predominantly C4 based diets, although in certain taxa, some individuals included a significant C3 component in their diet. The δ18O values of most species at Kathu were relatively low, suggesting a cooler and/or wetter climate. Carbon isotope evidence for C4 dominated habitats at Kathu, but with a larger C3 component amongst grazers than today, resembles the other Early to -Mid-Pleistocene assemblages in the region. Similarly, δ18O values for Kathu supplement existing evidence that the region was substantially wetter than in modern times.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-49
Number of pages13
JournalQuaternary International
Volume614
DOIs
StatePublished - 20 Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA

Funding

This paper is a section of an MSc thesis by Nyebe Mohale. Financial support was provided to Nyebe Mohale by the Department of Higher Education and Training through New Generation of Academics Programme (DHET-nGAP), South Africa .The authors wish to thank: Dr. David Morris (Head, Archaeology Department, McGregor Museum) for facilitating access to the Kathu Pan assemblage; Prof Yunus Ballim (University Vice Chancellor and Pricinpal, Sol Plaatje University) and Dr Garth Bennyworth (Head, Department of Heritage studies, Sol Plaatje University) for their encouragement and support of Nyebe Mohale; Prof. Michael Chazan for his support and also for providing Fig. 1 , Dr. Mike Buttler at iThemba Labs, Johannesburg for performing the stable isotope analysis. The assistance of the late Dr. James Brink in identification of the herbivores is acknowleged. The anonymous reviewers are thanked for their insightful comments which have helped to improve this manuscript. This paper is a section of an MSc thesis by Nyebe Mohale. Financial support was provided to Nyebe Mohale by the Department of Higher Education and Training through New Generation of Academics Programme (DHET-nGAP), South Africa.The authors wish to thank: Dr. David Morris (Head, Archaeology Department, McGregor Museum) for facilitating access to the Kathu Pan assemblage; Prof Yunus Ballim (University Vice Chancellor and Pricinpal, Sol Plaatje University) and Dr Garth Bennyworth (Head, Department of Heritage studies, Sol Plaatje University) for their encouragement and support of Nyebe Mohale; Prof. Michael Chazan for his support and also for providing Fig. 1, Dr. Mike Buttler at iThemba Labs, Johannesburg for performing the stable isotope analysis. The assistance of the late Dr. James Brink in identification of the herbivores is acknowleged. The anonymous reviewers are thanked for their insightful comments which have helped to improve this manuscript.

FundersFunder number
Sol Plaatje University
Department of Higher Education and Training

    Keywords

    • African herbivores
    • Carbon isotopes
    • Enamel carbonate
    • Oxygen isotopes
    • Palaeoclimate

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