The availability of plants and freshwater shapes the diets and social behavior of chimpanzees, our closest living relative. However, limited evidence about the spatial relationships shared between ancestral human (hominin) remains, edible resources, refuge, and freshwater leaves the influence of local resources on our species’ evolution open to debate. Exceptionally well-preserved organic geochemical fossils—biomarkers—preserved in a soil horizon resolve different plant communities at meter scales across a contiguous 25,000 m2 archaeological land surface at Olduvai Gorge from about 2 Ma. Biomarkers reveal hominins had access to aquatic plants and protective woods in a patchwork landscape, which included a spring-fed wetland near a woodland that both were surrounded by open grassland. Numerous cut-marked animal bones are located within the wooded area, and within meters of wetland vegetation delineated by biomarkers for ferns and sedges. Taken together, plant biomarkers, clustered bone debris, and hominin remains define a clear spatial pattern that places animal butchery amid the refuge of an isolated forest patch and near freshwater with diverse edible resources.
- Leaf wax
- Carbon isotope
- Human evolution
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- School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society, The Lyell Centre - Assistant Professor
- School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society - Assistant Professor
Person: Academic (Research & Teaching)