Introduction: The Laetoli Hominins and Associated Fauna

Terry Harrison

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    Abstract

    Laetoli in northern Tanzania is one of the most important paleontological and paleoanthropological localities in Africa. In addition to fossil hominins, there is a diverse associated fauna. The Laetoli fauna is important because it serves as a key comparative reference for other Plio-Pleistocene sites in Africa, it samples several time periods that are generally poorly represented at other paleontological sites in East Africa, and it provides key insights into the faunal and floral diversity during the Pliocene. As a result of renewed fieldwork at Laetoli (1998–2005) more than 25,000 fossils have been collected, of which more than half are fossil mammals. Most of the fossils were recovered from the Upper Laetolil Beds (3.6–3.85 Ma), but smaller samples came from the Lower Laetolil Beds (3.85–4.4 Ma) and Upper Ndolanya Beds (2.66 Ma). These include new specimens of Australopithecus afarensis from the Upper Laetolil Beds and the first finds of fossil hominins from the Upper Ndolanya Beds, attributable to Paranthropus aethiopicus. Inferences about the paleoecology at Laetoli are important for understanding the possible range of hominin habitat preferences and ecological change in East Africa during the Pliocene. The evidence from a wide range of analyses indicates that a mosaic of closed woodland, open woodland, shrubland and grassland dominated the paleoecology of the Upper Laetolil Beds. The region would have been dry for most of the year, except for the possible occurrence of permanent springs along the margin of the Eyasi Plateau and ephemeral pools and rivers during the rainy season. The paleoecological reconstruction of the Upper Ndolanya Beds is more problematic because of conflicting lines of evidence, but it is very likely that conditions were drier than in the Upper Laetolil Beds with a greater proportion of grassland, but that closed and open woodlands were still a major part of the ecosystem.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationVertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology
    PublisherSpringer
    Pages1-14
    Number of pages14
    Edition9789048199617
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

    Publication series

    NameVertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology
    Number9789048199617
    ISSN (Print)1877-9077

    Fingerprint

    fossils
    fauna
    fossil
    woodlands
    woodland
    paleoecology
    Eastern Africa
    Pliocene
    grasslands
    grassland
    ephemeral pool
    shrubland
    habitat preferences
    Tanzania
    habitat selection
    shrublands
    fieldwork
    wet season
    plateaus
    mammal

    Keywords

    • Fauna
    • Laetolil beds
    • Ndolanya beds
    • Paleoecology
    • Paleontology
    • Pliocene

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Palaeontology
    • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
    • Ecology

    Cite this

    Harrison, T. (2011). Introduction: The Laetoli Hominins and Associated Fauna. In Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology (9789048199617 ed., pp. 1-14). (Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology; No. 9789048199617). Springer . https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-9962-4_1

    Introduction : The Laetoli Hominins and Associated Fauna. / Harrison, Terry.

    Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology. 9789048199617. ed. Springer , 2011. p. 1-14 (Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology; No. 9789048199617).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    Harrison, T 2011, Introduction: The Laetoli Hominins and Associated Fauna. in Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology. 9789048199617 edn, Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology, no. 9789048199617, Springer , pp. 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-9962-4_1
    Harrison T. Introduction: The Laetoli Hominins and Associated Fauna. In Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology. 9789048199617 ed. Springer . 2011. p. 1-14. (Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology; 9789048199617). https://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-9962-4_1
    Harrison, Terry. / Introduction : The Laetoli Hominins and Associated Fauna. Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology. 9789048199617. ed. Springer , 2011. pp. 1-14 (Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology; 9789048199617).
    @inbook{a26cedee7f124aaa99ea1ee6885e4a3d,
    title = "Introduction: The Laetoli Hominins and Associated Fauna",
    abstract = "Laetoli in northern Tanzania is one of the most important paleontological and paleoanthropological localities in Africa. In addition to fossil hominins, there is a diverse associated fauna. The Laetoli fauna is important because it serves as a key comparative reference for other Plio-Pleistocene sites in Africa, it samples several time periods that are generally poorly represented at other paleontological sites in East Africa, and it provides key insights into the faunal and floral diversity during the Pliocene. As a result of renewed fieldwork at Laetoli (1998–2005) more than 25,000 fossils have been collected, of which more than half are fossil mammals. Most of the fossils were recovered from the Upper Laetolil Beds (3.6–3.85 Ma), but smaller samples came from the Lower Laetolil Beds (3.85–4.4 Ma) and Upper Ndolanya Beds (2.66 Ma). These include new specimens of Australopithecus afarensis from the Upper Laetolil Beds and the first finds of fossil hominins from the Upper Ndolanya Beds, attributable to Paranthropus aethiopicus. Inferences about the paleoecology at Laetoli are important for understanding the possible range of hominin habitat preferences and ecological change in East Africa during the Pliocene. The evidence from a wide range of analyses indicates that a mosaic of closed woodland, open woodland, shrubland and grassland dominated the paleoecology of the Upper Laetolil Beds. The region would have been dry for most of the year, except for the possible occurrence of permanent springs along the margin of the Eyasi Plateau and ephemeral pools and rivers during the rainy season. The paleoecological reconstruction of the Upper Ndolanya Beds is more problematic because of conflicting lines of evidence, but it is very likely that conditions were drier than in the Upper Laetolil Beds with a greater proportion of grassland, but that closed and open woodlands were still a major part of the ecosystem.",
    keywords = "Fauna, Laetolil beds, Ndolanya beds, Paleoecology, Paleontology, Pliocene",
    author = "Terry Harrison",
    year = "2011",
    month = "1",
    day = "1",
    doi = "10.1007/978-90-481-9962-4_1",
    language = "English (US)",
    series = "Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology",
    publisher = "Springer",
    number = "9789048199617",
    pages = "1--14",
    booktitle = "Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology",
    edition = "9789048199617",

    }

    TY - CHAP

    T1 - Introduction

    T2 - The Laetoli Hominins and Associated Fauna

    AU - Harrison, Terry

    PY - 2011/1/1

    Y1 - 2011/1/1

    N2 - Laetoli in northern Tanzania is one of the most important paleontological and paleoanthropological localities in Africa. In addition to fossil hominins, there is a diverse associated fauna. The Laetoli fauna is important because it serves as a key comparative reference for other Plio-Pleistocene sites in Africa, it samples several time periods that are generally poorly represented at other paleontological sites in East Africa, and it provides key insights into the faunal and floral diversity during the Pliocene. As a result of renewed fieldwork at Laetoli (1998–2005) more than 25,000 fossils have been collected, of which more than half are fossil mammals. Most of the fossils were recovered from the Upper Laetolil Beds (3.6–3.85 Ma), but smaller samples came from the Lower Laetolil Beds (3.85–4.4 Ma) and Upper Ndolanya Beds (2.66 Ma). These include new specimens of Australopithecus afarensis from the Upper Laetolil Beds and the first finds of fossil hominins from the Upper Ndolanya Beds, attributable to Paranthropus aethiopicus. Inferences about the paleoecology at Laetoli are important for understanding the possible range of hominin habitat preferences and ecological change in East Africa during the Pliocene. The evidence from a wide range of analyses indicates that a mosaic of closed woodland, open woodland, shrubland and grassland dominated the paleoecology of the Upper Laetolil Beds. The region would have been dry for most of the year, except for the possible occurrence of permanent springs along the margin of the Eyasi Plateau and ephemeral pools and rivers during the rainy season. The paleoecological reconstruction of the Upper Ndolanya Beds is more problematic because of conflicting lines of evidence, but it is very likely that conditions were drier than in the Upper Laetolil Beds with a greater proportion of grassland, but that closed and open woodlands were still a major part of the ecosystem.

    AB - Laetoli in northern Tanzania is one of the most important paleontological and paleoanthropological localities in Africa. In addition to fossil hominins, there is a diverse associated fauna. The Laetoli fauna is important because it serves as a key comparative reference for other Plio-Pleistocene sites in Africa, it samples several time periods that are generally poorly represented at other paleontological sites in East Africa, and it provides key insights into the faunal and floral diversity during the Pliocene. As a result of renewed fieldwork at Laetoli (1998–2005) more than 25,000 fossils have been collected, of which more than half are fossil mammals. Most of the fossils were recovered from the Upper Laetolil Beds (3.6–3.85 Ma), but smaller samples came from the Lower Laetolil Beds (3.85–4.4 Ma) and Upper Ndolanya Beds (2.66 Ma). These include new specimens of Australopithecus afarensis from the Upper Laetolil Beds and the first finds of fossil hominins from the Upper Ndolanya Beds, attributable to Paranthropus aethiopicus. Inferences about the paleoecology at Laetoli are important for understanding the possible range of hominin habitat preferences and ecological change in East Africa during the Pliocene. The evidence from a wide range of analyses indicates that a mosaic of closed woodland, open woodland, shrubland and grassland dominated the paleoecology of the Upper Laetolil Beds. The region would have been dry for most of the year, except for the possible occurrence of permanent springs along the margin of the Eyasi Plateau and ephemeral pools and rivers during the rainy season. The paleoecological reconstruction of the Upper Ndolanya Beds is more problematic because of conflicting lines of evidence, but it is very likely that conditions were drier than in the Upper Laetolil Beds with a greater proportion of grassland, but that closed and open woodlands were still a major part of the ecosystem.

    KW - Fauna

    KW - Laetolil beds

    KW - Ndolanya beds

    KW - Paleoecology

    KW - Paleontology

    KW - Pliocene

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84919617752&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84919617752&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    U2 - 10.1007/978-90-481-9962-4_1

    DO - 10.1007/978-90-481-9962-4_1

    M3 - Chapter

    AN - SCOPUS:84919617752

    T3 - Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology

    SP - 1

    EP - 14

    BT - Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology

    PB - Springer

    ER -