Hominin Environments in the East African Pliocene: An Assessment of the Faunal Evidence

Part of the series Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology Series pp 217-255

Serengeti micromammals and their implications for Olduvai paleoenvironments

  • D. N. ReedAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, The University of Texas at Austin

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Fossil micromammals are widely used as paleoenvironmental indicators in Pliocene hominin fossil localities, and many assemblages are believed to be accumulated by predators such as owls. This chapter examines modern owlaccumulated micromammal assemblages from Serengeti, Tanzania. These modern roost data are used to examine the fidelity of the taxonomic signal and its sensitivity to change across habitats within an ecosystem. The modern data show that the relative abundance of prey taxa in owl-accumulated assemblages varies across habitats in a predictable fashion. This provides a basis for applying the analysis of fossil micromammal assemblages to intrabasin scales using relative abundance as well as biome or regional scales using presence/absence of taxa. Using the modern micromammal assemblages as analogues, the latter part of the chapter explores taphonomic and paleoenvironmental change through Bed I times at Olduvai Gorge.