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Geological Setting and Age of Australopithecus sediba from Southern Africa

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Anne-Sophie Meriaux


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We describe the geological, geochronological, geomorphological, and faunal context of the Malapa site and the fossils of Australopithecus sediba. The hominins occur with a macrofauna assemblage that existed in Africa between 2.36 and 1.50 million years ago (Ma). The fossils are encased in water-laid, clastic sediments that were deposited along the lower parts of what is now a deeply eroded cave system, immediately above a flowstone layer with a U-Pb date of 2.026 +/- 0.021 Ma. The flowstone has a reversed paleomagnetic signature and the overlying hominin-bearing sediments are of normal polarity, indicating deposition during the 1.95- to 1.78-Ma Olduvai Subchron. The two hominin specimens were buried together in a single debris flow that lithified soon after deposition in a phreatic environment inaccessible to scavengers.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Dirks PHGM, Kibii JM, Kuhn BF, Steininger C, Churchill SE, Kramers JD, Pickering R, Farber DL, Mériaux A-S, Herries AIR, King GCP, Berger LR

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Science

Year: 2010

Volume: 328

Issue: 5975

Pages: 205-208

Print publication date: 09/04/2010

ISSN (print): 0036-8075

ISSN (electronic): 1095-9203

Publisher: American Association for the Advancement of Science


DOI: 10.1126/science.1184950


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Funder referenceFunder name
Khure Africa project
Liverpool University
Palaeontological Scientific Trust (PAST)
School of Geosciences, University of the Witwatersrand
Swiss National Science Foundation
University of the Witwatersrand
Institute for Human Evolution
UNSW Faculty of Medicine