The 89th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2020)

A Closer Look at the Spatial Distribution of Hominin Fossils at Pin 8, Hill Antechamber, Rising Star Cave


1Center for the Exploration of the Human Journey, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, 2Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, 3Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

April 17, 2020 , Platinum Ballroom Add to calendar

Following the initial 2013 discovery of hominin fossils in the Rising Star Cave system in Cradle of Humankind, South Africa, excavations focused on an area within a ~5 x 8 m chamber subsequently named Dinaledi Chamber. While the majority of fossil material recovered in 2013 was from this chamber, scattered skeletal remains were collected from the surface approximately 12 m away in an area identified in field notes as “Pin 8”. Now considered part of the Hill Antechamber, recent excavations near Pin 8 have recovered additional hominin material. Some advanced mapping technologies are not feasible within the confined spaces in of the cave system. All specimens are piece-plotted on an arbitrary grid established in the Dinaledi Subsystem, and other mapping approaches are applied in specific contexts. Here, we evaluate the efficacy of using open source GIS, including QGIS and tools within that package, to map the fossils in 3 dimensions within this spatially distinct area of the Dinaledi Subsystem. This offers an expedient method for initial visualization of the spatial relationship of specimens and for communicating those results with other members of the research team who cannot access the space themselves.

National Geographic Society, Lyda Hill Foundation, University of the Witwatersrand, South African Centre of Excellence in the Palaeosciences, and the South African National Research Foundation

Slides/Poster (pdf)