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Thoughts on cave bones?


Bradley Flynn

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Bradley Flynn

Hi all

I have been looking through some of my cave finds and want your thoughts on two specimens that look much older than the other bones. All these bones where found in one cave that could have possibly been inhabited by humans as recently as 370 years ago, before colonialism. I have found some ostrich egg fragments as well as sea shells in the upper soil layer, this might be an indication of human activity, I have also found evidence that the site was occupied by scavengers and predators like the lynx and leopard at some points. The site is approximately 1.5km from the nearest coast and around 200m above sea level (could be higher) cave fossils, including hominid fossils dated at 35,000 years old have been found in the surrounding mountains. (made an edit on age from 80,000 changed to 35,000, this could change again as I was just reading some conflicting reports on the area, varies from middle to late pleistocene with some early to middle holocene in the mix) 

These jaw bones where found in a compact layer at around 300mm below the looser 100mm of topsoil. Jaw specimen 1 is probably a juvenile Papio ursinus (chacma baboon) jaw 2 is from a Cape fur seal, they feel much denser than the bones from the top soil layer, but are not permineralized (like stone) 

I would like some thoughts on the idea of these being pleistocene material? 

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IMG_20201219_185422.jpg

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The first two 'look' well fossilized and I would call them Late Pleistocene prolly.  South African mammals are not within my experience however - but I would caution you against discounting other bones because they 'look' younger.  Caves are strange places for how bones can be preserved, if you can identify them - you may find something that is extinct or at least extinct in the geographical region currently, some could very well be fossils.  Just saying.  Be cautious.  The top left younger looking jaw appears to be some kind of pig to me.

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Bradley Flynn

@Lorne Ledger thank you for your input. Yes I agree with you on the younger looking bones as large bovidae do not roam these areas anymore and I have found some large bovid jaws. The jaw on the top left is from a Rock hyrax:dinothumb:

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There is a very interesting book about cave finds in South Africa, "The Hunters or the Hunted? An Introduction to African Cave Taphonomy" by C.K. Brain (1981, University of Chicago Press).  It's about more than that, geared for paleontologists yet also accessible to the layman because the writing style is not overly technical with various terms explained early.  Several years ago, I wrote a book review of it for the forum:

 

http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/35322-the-hunters-or-the-hunted-a-book-review/&tab=comments#comment-390130

 

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