The stable isotope setting of Australopithecus sediba at Malapa, South Africa

Holt, Emily, Dirks, Paul, Placzek, Christa, and Berger, Lee (2016) The stable isotope setting of Australopithecus sediba at Malapa, South Africa. South African Journal of Science, 112 (7-8).

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Abstract

We report delta C-13 and delta O-18 results from carbonate-cemented cave sediments at Malapa in South Africa. The sediments were deposited during a short-period magnetic reversal at 1.977 +/- 0.003 Ma, immediately preceding deposition of Facies D sediments that contain the type fossils of Australopithecus sediba. Values of delta C-13 range between -5.65 and -2.09 with an average of -4.58 +/- 0.54% (Vienna Pee Dee Belemnite, VPDB) and values of delta O-18 range between -6.14 and -3.84 with an average of -4.93 +/- 0.44% (VPDB). Despite signs of diagenetic alteration from metastable aragonite to calcite, the Malapa isotope values are similar to those obtained in two previous studies in South Africa for the same relative time period. Broadly, the Malapa delta C-13 values provide constraints on the palaeovegetation at Malapa. Because of the complex nature of the carbonate cements and mixed mineralogy in the samples, our estimates of vegetation type (C-4-dominant) must be regarded as preliminary only. However, the indication of a mainly C-4 landscape is in contrast to the reported diet of A. sediba, and suggests a diverse environment involving both grassland and riparian woodland.

Item ID: 45778
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1996-7489
Keywords: palaeovegetation, carbonate-cemented, cave sediments, palaeoclimate
Additional Information:

© 2016. The Author(s). Published under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence

Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), University of the Witwatersrand (UW), James Cook University (JCU)
Projects and Grants: ARC #DP14010428
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2016 07:36
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0402 Geochemistry > 040203 Isotope Geochemistry @ 80%
04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience > 040605 Palaeoclimatology @ 20%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970104 Expanding Knowledge in the Earth Sciences @ 100%
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