The view from the Lincoln Cave: mid- to late Pleistocene fossil deposits from Sterkfontein hominid site, South Africa

This source preferred by Sally Reynolds

Authors: Reynolds, S.C., Clarke, R.J. and Kuman, K.A.

Journal: Journal of Human Evolution

Volume: 53

Pages: 260-271

The Lincoln-Fault cave system lies adjacent to the Sterkfontein Cave system in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, Gauteng Province, South Africa. Lincoln Cave contains a mid- to late Pleistocene fossiliferous deposit which has been dated using uranium series methods to between 252,600 35,600 and 115,300 7,700 years old. Although speleologists presumed that there was no connection between the Lincoln Cave and Sterkfontein Cave systems, results of excavations conducted in 1997 suggest a link between the deposits. Detailed comparisons of artifacts, fauna, hominid material, and a statistical correspondence analysis (CA) of the macro-mammalian fauna in the deposits strongly support this hypothesis. The recovery of Early Acheulean-type artifacts from the Lincoln Cave suggests that older artifacts eroded out of Sterkfontein Member 5 West and were redeposited into the younger Lincoln Cave deposits. The close physical proximity of these deposits, and the nature of the material recovered from them, indicates that the material was probably redeposited via a link between the two cave systems. Although faunal mixing is present, it is possible to say that large carnivorans become more scarce at Sterkfontein during the mid- to late Pleistocene, while small canids and felids appear to become more abundant, indicating that large and small carnivorans probably varied their use of the site through time. This may also reflect an increasing presence of humans in the Sterkfontein area during the mid- to late Pleistocene.

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