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Paleontological Localities on the Eyasi Plateau, Including Laetoli

  • Terry HarrisonEmail author
  • Amandus Kweka
Chapter
Part of the Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology Series book series (VERT)

Abstract

Sixty paleontological localities are recorded at Laetoli and other areas on the Eyasi Plateau. These include several new localities at Laetoli, and many newly designated localities in the Kakesio and Esere-Noiti areas to the south and southwest of Laetoli. Descriptions of the locations, stratigraphic context and paleontological significance of each locality are presented. The Laetoli localities have produced a rich assemblage of fossils from the Pliocene-aged Upper Laetolil Beds and Upper Ndolanya Beds. The most productive localities are Localities 2, 10E and 18, which have each yielded more than 2,000 fossil mammals since 1974. In addition, smaller samples of fossil vertebrates and stone artifacts have been recovered from the Pleistocene Olpiro and Ngaloba Beds. Fossil hominins are presently known only from localities at Laetoli. The Upper Laetolil Beds have yielded the remains of Australopithecus afarensis, and tracks of fossilized footprints of hominins, presumably of A. afarensis, are known from Locality 8 (Footprint Site G). Three new specimens of A. afarensis have been recovered from Laetoli since 1998, and the provenance of these specimens is described here. In addition, fossil hominin specimens have been recovered from the Upper Ndolanya Beds for the first time. A cranium of an archaic form of Homo sapiens is known from the Upper Ngaloba Beds at Locality 2. Localities in the Kakesio area and the Esere-Noiti area have yielded relatively small, but important, collections of fossil vertebrates, invertebrates and plants from the Lower Laetolil Beds. No hominins have yet been recovered from this stratigraphic unit, although it is possible that they may be discovered in the future with more intensive collecting and surveying.

Keywords

Garusi Gadjingero Emboremony Kakesio Esere Noiti Laetolil Beds Ndolanya Beds Ngaloba Beds hominins fossil vertebrates 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology and the Unit of Antiquities in Dar es Salaam for permission to conduct research. Thanks to Paul Msemwa (Director) and the staff at the National Museum of Tanzania in Dar es Salaam for their support and assistance. The following individuals provided valuable advice and assistance in the field: P. Andrews, P. Ditchfield, J. Kingston, M. Mbago, C.P. Msuya, C. Swisher and D. Su. W.J. Sanders and D. Su provided very useful comments on an initial draft of the manuscript. We acknowledge with thank the many researchers and support personnel who accompanied us in the field at Laetoli and contributed to the work presented here. Research at Laetoli was supported by grants from the National Geographic Society, the Leakey Foundation, and NSF (Grants BCS-9903434 and BCS-0309513).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for the Study of Human Origins, Department of AnthropologyNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.National Museum of TanzaniaDar es SalaamTanzania

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