The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Late Miocene hominin biogeography: Comparative analyses of eastern and southern African faunas


Anthropology, School of World Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University

Thursday 2:30-2:45, Ballroom C Add to calendar

Many biogeographic studies of fauna associated with Late Miocene hominin sites highlight the taxonomic similarities between hominin localities in central and eastern Africa, including those of the Middle Awash. Most studies, however, fail to include the Late Miocene Langebaanweg fauna, the only site sampling this time period in southern Africa, thus overlooking potential important biogeographic links with southern Africa that could elucidate how faunal communities, including hominins, were distributed across Africa through time.

Here, we include fauna from three discrete Langebaanweg communities in biogeographic analyses along with 15 other Late Miocene faunal assemblages sampling eastern and northern Africa and Eurasia. Updated lists of large mammal genera were included from each site, with regional Eurasian taxonomic lists based on those of Bernor, et al. (2009). For each pair of assemblages, the genus–level faunal resemblance indices (FRIs) of Dice (Sokal and Sneath, 1963) and Simpson (1943) were calculated and compared. While previous studies like those of Bernor et al. (2009) highlight the faunal similarities calculated between the Ardipithecus faunas and those of the Lothagam Nawata Member, our analyses instead result in a larger calculated FRI between the three Langebaanweg assemblages and those of the Middle Awash. Calculations also reflect strong links with other eastern and northern African hominin sites.

These results suggest that despite the lack of hominins in Langebaanweg assemblages, their taxonomic similarities with Middle Awash faunas suggest strong faunal interchange between southern and eastern Africa during the Late Miocene that likely influenced later hominin dispersal patterns in the Plio-Pleistocene.

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