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Environmental Change within the Laetoli Fossiliferous Sequence: Vegetation Catenas and Bovid Ecomorphology

  • Kris KovarovicEmail author
  • Peter Andrews
Chapter
Part of the Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology Series book series (VERT)

Abstract

Here we investigate changes in Pliocene ­paleoecological conditions between the Upper Laetolil Beds (3.85–3.63 Ma) and Upper Ndolanya Beds (2.66 Ma) at Laetoli, Tanzania. We assess the ecomorphology (i.e., postcranial adaptations that indicate habitat preferences) of all measureable specimens of the family Bovidae in both beds in order to reconstruct the likely habitat distribution during the deposition of both major geological units. Predicted habitat categories are defined and discussed in terms of extant vegetation associations found in the modern day Laetoli region. Our analyses indicate that the Upper Ndolanya Beds represent a more open environment than was present during deposition of the Upper Laetolil Beds one million years earlier. Additionally, we identify a trend during the 200 kyr deposition of the Upper Laetolil Beds, during which the proportion of woodland, bushland and grass-dominated habitat types shifts throughout the sequence.

Keywords

Habitat Paleoecology Bovid Ecomorphology Vegetation Catena 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Leslie Aiello, Marion Bamford, Laura Bishop, Tom Plummer, Christophe Soligo and Brian Villmoare. Thank you to Terry Harrison and Denise Su for access to Laetoli material and for figures used herein. Thanks also to the 2001 Eyasi Plateau Paleontological and Geological Project field crew, the National Museums of Tanzania, American Museum of Natural History, New York, National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC, The Natural History Museum, London, and the Powell-Cotton Museum, Kent. This research was supported by an Overseas Research Studentship, the UCL Graduate School (to K. Kovarovic), Wenner-Gren Foundation (to P. Andrews) and the NSF (to T. Harrison, BCS-9903434 and BCS-0309513).

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyDurham UniversityDurhamUK
  2. 2.Palaeontology DepartmentNatural History MuseumLondonUK

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