Matching Items (30)

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The geologic history of central and eastern Ledi-Geraru, Afar, Ethiopia

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Sedimentary basins in the Afar Depression, Ethiopia archive the progression of continental breakup, record regional changes in east African climate and volcanism, and host what are arguably the most important fossiliferous strata for studying early human evolution and innovation. Significant

Sedimentary basins in the Afar Depression, Ethiopia archive the progression of continental breakup, record regional changes in east African climate and volcanism, and host what are arguably the most important fossiliferous strata for studying early human evolution and innovation. Significant changes in rift tectonics, climate, and faunal assemblages occur between 3-2.5 million years ago (Ma), but sediments spanning this time period are sparse. In this dissertation, I present the results of a geologic investigation targeting sediments between 3-2.5 Ma in the central and eastern Ledi Geraru (CLG and ELG) field areas in the lower Awash Valley, using a combination of geologic mapping, stratigraphy, and tephra chemistry and dating. At Gulfaytu in CLG, I mapped the northern-most outcrops of the hominin-bearing Hadar Formation (3.8-2.9 Ma), a 20 m-thick section of flat-lying lacustrine sediments containing 8 new tephras that directly overlie the widespread BKT-2 marker beds (2.95 Ma). Paleolake Hadar persisted after 2.95 Ma, and the presence and characteristics of the Busidima Formation (2.7-0.016 Ma) indicates Gulfaytu was affected by a reversal in depositional basin polarity. Combined with regional and geophysical data, I show the Hadar Formation underlying CLG is >300 m thick, supporting the hypothesis that it was the lower Awash Pliocene depocenter. At ELG, I mapped >300 m of sediments spanning 3.0-2.45 Ma. These sediments coarsen upward and show a progression from fluctuating lake conditions to fluvial landscapes and widespread soil development. This is consistent with the temporal change in depositional environments observed elsewhere in the lower Awash Valley, and suggests that these strata are correlative with the Hadar Formation. Furthermore, the strata and basalts at ELG are highly faulted, and overprinted by shifting extension directions attributed to the northern migration of the Afar triple junction. The presence of fossiliferous beds and stone tools makes ELG a high-priority target for anthropological and archaeological research. This study provides a new temporally-calibrated and high-resolution record of deposition, volcanism, and faulting patterns during a period of significant change in the Afar.

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2013

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The role of ochre in the development of modern human behavior: a case study from South Africa

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In recent years, southern Africa has figured prominently in the modern human origins debate due to increasing evidence for precocious behaviors considered to be unique to our species. These significant findings have included bone tools, shell beads, engraved ostrich eggshell,

In recent years, southern Africa has figured prominently in the modern human origins debate due to increasing evidence for precocious behaviors considered to be unique to our species. These significant findings have included bone tools, shell beads, engraved ostrich eggshell, and heavily ground and engraved ochre fragments. The presence of ochre in Middle Stone Age (MSA, ~250-40kya) archaeological sites in southern Africa is often proposed as indirect evidence for the emergence of symbolic or artistic behavior, a uniquely modern human trait. However, there is no remaining artwork from this period and there is significant debate about what the ochre may have been used for. With a few exceptions, ochre has gone largely unstudied. This project tested competing models for ochre use within the Pinnacle Point (PP), South Africa research area. Combined results from characterization and sourcing analyses, color classification, heat treatment analysis, and hafting experiments suggest MSA ochre is tied to early symbolic or ritual behavior.

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2012

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Tracking climate-driven changes in Neandertal subsistence behaviors and prey mobility patterns

Description

The ability of Neandertals to cope with the oscillating climate of the late Pleistocene and the extent to which these climate changes affected local Neandertal habitats remain unanswered anthropological topics of considerable scientific interest. Understanding the impact of climatic instability

The ability of Neandertals to cope with the oscillating climate of the late Pleistocene and the extent to which these climate changes affected local Neandertal habitats remain unanswered anthropological topics of considerable scientific interest. Understanding the impact of climatic instability on Neandertals is critical for reconstructing the behaviors of our closest fossil relatives and possibly identifying factors that contributed to their extinction. My work aimed to test the hypotheses that 1) cold climates stressed Neandertal populations, and 2) that global climate changes affected local Neandertal habitats. An analysis of Neandertal butchering on Cervus elaphus, Rangifer tarandus, and Capreolus capreolus skeletal material deposited during global warm and cold phases from two French sites - Pech de l'Azé IV and Roc de Marsal - was conducted to assess the impact of climate change on butchering strategies and resource extraction. Results from a statistical analysis of surface modification on all marrow yielding long bones, including the 1st phalanx, demonstrated that specimens excavated from the cold levels at each cave have more cut marks (Wald χ2= 51.33, p= <0.001) and percussion marks (Wald χ2= 4.92, p= 0.02) than specimens from the warm levels after controlling for fragment size. These results support the hypothesis that Neandertals were nutritionally stressed during glacial cycles. The hypothesis that global climates affected local habitats was tested through radiogenic strontium isotopic reconstruction of large herbivore mobility patterns (e.g., Bison, Equus, Cervus and Rangifer), because it is known that in the northern hemisphere, mammals migrate less in warm, well-vegetated environments, but more in cold, open environments. Identifying isotopic variation in mammalian fossils enables mobility patterns to be inferred, providing an indication of whether environments at Pech de l'Azé IV and Roc de Marsal tracked global climates. Results from this study indicate that Neandertal prey species within the Dordogne Valley of France did not undertake long distance round-trip migrations in glacial or interglacial cycles, maintaining the possibility that local habitats did not change in differing climatic cycles. However, because Neandertals were nutritionally stressed the most likely conclusion is that glacial cycles decreased herbivore populations, thus stressing Neandertals.

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2012

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The development of adult sex-typed social behavior in Lemur catta

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Unanswered questions about the evolution of human gender abound and are salient across the anthropological disciplines and beyond. Did adult sex-typed behavioral tendencies actually evolve? If so, when? For what purpose? The best way to gain insight into the evolution

Unanswered questions about the evolution of human gender abound and are salient across the anthropological disciplines and beyond. Did adult sex-typed behavioral tendencies actually evolve? If so, when? For what purpose? The best way to gain insight into the evolution of human gender is to understand the evolution and development of sex-typed behavior in comparative primate taxa. Captive research indicates that there are many proximate factors likely to shape the development of sex-typed behavior in non-human primates—prenatal and postnatal endocrinological experience, social experience, ecological factors, and their interactions. However, it is largely unknown how sex-typed behavior proceeds and is shaped by those factors in evolutionarily salient environments. This study investigated one—whether extrinsic sexually differentiated social interactions are likely influential in the development of adult sex-typed behavior in wild-living Lemur catta. Little is known about sex-typed development in this species or in strepsirrhines in general. This research therefore addresses an important phylogenetic gap in our understanding of primate sex-typed development. Behavioral observations were carried out on mixed cross-sectional sample of adult females (n=10), adult males (n=8), yearling females (n=4), yearling males (n=4), and newborn females (n=16) and males (n=14) at Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve in southwest Madagascar from September 2008 to August 2009. Twenty-three sex-typed behaviors were identified in adults using linear mixed effects models and models of group response profiles through time. Of those, only eight had a pre-pubertal developmental component. Infants did not exhibit any sex differences in behavior, but juveniles (prepubertal, weaned individuals) resembled adults in their (relatively few) patterns of expression of sex-typed behavior. Most adult sex-typed behaviors in this species apparently develop at or after puberty and may be under gonadal hormone control. Those that develop before puberty do not likely depend on extrinsic sexually differentiation social interactions for their development, because there is no clear evidence that infants and juvenile male and females are not treated differently by others according to sex. If sexually differentiated social interactions are important for sex-typed behavioral development in subadult ,italic>Lemur catta, they are likely intrinsically (rather than extrinsically) driven.

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2012

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Development of feeding in ring-tailed lemurs

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Fundamental hypotheses about the life history, complex cognition and social dynamics of humans are rooted in feeding ecology - particularly in the experiences of young animals as they grow. However, the few existing primate developmental data are limited to only

Fundamental hypotheses about the life history, complex cognition and social dynamics of humans are rooted in feeding ecology - particularly in the experiences of young animals as they grow. However, the few existing primate developmental data are limited to only a handful of species of monkeys and apes. Without comparative data from more basal primates, such as lemurs, we are limited in the scope of our understanding of how feeding has shaped the evolution of these extraordinary aspects of primate biology. I present a developmental view of feeding ecology in the ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) using a mixed longitudinal sample (infant through adult) collected at the Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve in southwestern Madagascar from May 2009 to March 2010. I document the development of feeding, including weaning, the transition to solid food, and how foods are included in infant diets. Early in juvenility ring-tailed lemurs efficiently process most foods, but that hard ripe fruits and insects require more time to master. Infants and juveniles do not use many of the social learning behaviors that are common in monkeys and apes, and instead likely rely both on their own trial and error and simple local enhancement to learn appropriate foods. Juvenile ring-tailed lemurs are competent and efficient foragers, and that mitigating ecological risks may not best predict the lemur juvenile period, and that increases in social complexity and brain size may be at the root of primate juvenility. Finally, from juvenility through adulthood, females have more diverse diets than males. The early emergence of sex differences in dietary diversity in juvenility that are maintained throughout adulthood indicate that, in addition to reproductive costs incurred by females, niche partitioning is an important aspect of sex differential feeding ecology, and that ontogenetic studies of feeding are particularly valuable to understanding how selection shapes adult, species-typical diets. Overall, lemur juvenility is a time to play, build social relationships, learn about food, and where the kernels of sex-typical feeding develop. This study of the ontogeny of feeding ecology contributes an important phylogenetic perspective on the relationship between juvenility and the emergent foraging behaviors of developing animals

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2012

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Locomotor function and the evolution of the primate pelvis

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The bony pelvis is a pivotal component of the locomotor system, as it links the hindlimb with the trunk and serves as anchorage for the primary propulsive musculature. Its shape is therefore expected to be adapted to the biomechanical demands

The bony pelvis is a pivotal component of the locomotor system, as it links the hindlimb with the trunk and serves as anchorage for the primary propulsive musculature. Its shape is therefore expected to be adapted to the biomechanical demands of habitual locomotor behavior. However, because the relationship between locomotor mechanics and pelvic morphology is not well understood, the adaptive significance of particular pelvic traits and overall pelvic shape remains unclear. This study used an integrative, dual approach to elucidate the relationship between form and function in the primate pelvis. A biomechanical cylinder model of pelvic stress resistance was tested using in vitro strain analysis of monkey and ape cadaver specimens. These results were used to refine adaptive hypotheses relating pelvic form to locomotor mechanics. Hypotheses of adaptation were then tested via univariate and geometric morphometric methods using a taxonomically broad, comparative sample of 67 primate taxa. These results suggest that the pelvis exhibits some iliac and ischial adaptations to stress resistance that are associated with the biomechanical demands of habitual locomotor loading and of body size. The ilium and ischium exhibit relatively low levels of strain during experimental loading as well as adaptations that increase strength. The pubis exhibits relatively high strains during loading and does not vary as predicted with locomotion. This integrated study clarifies the relationship between strain and adaptation; these results support the hypothesis that bones adapted to stress resistance exhibit low strains during typical loading. In general, the cylinder model of pelvic biomechanics is unsupported. While the predictions of loading regimes were generally rejected, the inability of these methods to test the possible occurrence of overlapping loading regimes precludes outright rejection of the cylinder model. However, the lack of support for predicted global responses to applied loading regimes suggests that pelvic stress resistance may be better explained by a model that accounts for local, functional subunits of pelvic structure. The coalescence of a localized model of pelvic biomechanics and comparative morphometrics has great potential to shed light on the evolution of the complex, multi-functional structure of the pelvis.

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2010

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Ecological role of dry-habitat chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) at Issa, Ugalla, Tanzania

Description

Identifying the ecological role, or niche, that a species occupies within their larger community elucidates environmental adaptability and evolutionary success. This dissertation investigates the occupied niche of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) living in an open, dry savanna-woodland environment by examining

Identifying the ecological role, or niche, that a species occupies within their larger community elucidates environmental adaptability and evolutionary success. This dissertation investigates the occupied niche of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) living in an open, dry savanna-woodland environment by examining patterns of resource use and interspecific interactions. Data were collected October 2010--November 2011 at Issa, in the Ugalla region of western Tanzania, which is one of the driest, most open, and seasonal habitats inhabited by chimpanzees. Unlike most primatological studies which employ methods that include focal follows, this study focused instead on observing 'resource patches' for chimpanzees. Patch focals allow for the observation of all animals within a study area; capture resources that are not used by the study species; and are particularly well suited for unhabituated communities. In order to better understand relationships between environment and behavior, data collected at Issa are compared with published data from other chimpanzee populations. Issa chimpanzees were expected to have broader resource use than forest chimpanzees, as well as increased competition with other fauna, due to fewer available resources. However, in contrast to the assumption of food scarcity in dry habitats, dietary resources were available throughout the year. Like other populations, the diet of Issa chimpanzees consisted of mostly fruit, but unlike at other sites, the majority of plants consumed were woodland species. Additionally, although chimpanzees and other fauna shared spatial and dietary resources, there was only nominal overlap. These results point to extremely low levels of indirect competition between chimpanzees and other fauna. Despite extensive study of forest chimpanzees, little is known about their role within their faunal community in open, dry habitats, nor about how greater seasonality affects resource use. This project addresses both of these important issues and fosters novel approaches in anthropological studies, especially in reference to chimpanzee ecology and evolution. Understanding current chimpanzee behavioral relationships with their environments shapes hypotheses about their pasts, and also informs predictions about behaviors of similar taxa in paleo-environments. Lastly, examining the ecological role of chimpanzees within their larger communities will influence the formation of, as well as evaluate, conservation strategies.

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2013

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Community identity and social diversity on the central Peruvian coast: a bioarchaeological investigation of Ychsma diet, mobility, and mortuary practices (c. AD 900-1470)

Description

This dissertation focuses on the diversity inherent to the process of social community construction. Building upon previous archaeological and bioarchaeological studies of community identities, the current project emphasizes the need for consideration of the impact of diversity on community identity

This dissertation focuses on the diversity inherent to the process of social community construction. Building upon previous archaeological and bioarchaeological studies of community identities, the current project emphasizes the need for consideration of the impact of diversity on community identity formation in the past and illustrates the utility of a bioarchaeological approach for undertaking this task. Three specific aspects of community formation are addressed: (1) the relationship between symbolic community boundaries and geographic space, (2) the influence of diverse discourses of intra-community sub-groups on community formation, and (3) the negotiation of community boundaries by outsiders. To investigate these aspects of community construction in the past, dietary practices and mortuary rituals of the Late Intermediate Period (c. AD 900-1470) Ychsma society of the central Peruvian coast are examined as a case study. Previous anthropological and sociological studies demonstrate that diet and burial customs are common mechanisms used in processes of group identification around the world, including the Andes. In the current study, analyses of materials from Armatambo and Rinconada Alta in the Rimac Valley are used to examine the ways in which isotopic and dental indicators of diet and archaeological contextual indicators of mortuary rituals correspond with or crosscut spatial burial patterns and additional groups based on sex, age at death, and biogeochemically reconstructed residential origins. Observed patterns are interpreted using a theoretical framework that incorporates sociocultural theory of identity with pre-Columbian Andean ideology of the body, self, and social environment. Results reveal differences in large-scale trends in diet and mortuary practices associated with burial at each site that are interpreted as evidence of symbolic community boundaries between sites. Complexities within larger trends reveal evidence of internal diversity as well as fluidity across community boundaries. Specifically, evidence is presented for intra-community dietary differences, intra-community differences associated with age and sex, and finally evidence of external relationships. This consideration of diversity in community identity construction is concluded to profoundly refine current understandings of Ychsma social interactions. Consequently, this study demonstrates empirical investigation of social diversity is necessary for understanding the complex nature of the social construction of communities in the past.

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Date Created
2015

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Variation in dental microwear textures and dietary variation in African Old World monkeys (Cercopithecidae)

Description

Dietary diversity is an important component of species’s ecology that often relates to species’s abundance and geographic distribution. Additionally, dietary diversity is involved in many hypotheses regarding the geographic distribution and evolutionary fate of fossil primates. However, in taxa such

Dietary diversity is an important component of species’s ecology that often relates to species’s abundance and geographic distribution. Additionally, dietary diversity is involved in many hypotheses regarding the geographic distribution and evolutionary fate of fossil primates. However, in taxa such as primates with relatively generalized morphology and diets, a method for approximating dietary diversity in fossil species is lacking.

One method that has shown promise in approximating dietary diversity is dental microwear analyses. Dental microwear variance has been used to infer dietary variation in fossil species, but a strong link between variation in microwear and variation in diet is lacking. This dissertation presents data testing the hypotheses that species with greater variation in dental microwear textures have greater annual, seasonal, or monthly dietary diversity.

Dental microwear texture scans were collected from Phase II facets of first and second molars from 309 museum specimens of eight species of extant African Old World monkeys (Cercopithecidae; n = 9 to 74) with differing dietary diversity. Dietary diversity was calculated based on food category consumption frequency at study sites of wild populations. Variation in the individual microwear variables complexity (Asfc) and scale of maximum complexity (Smc) distinguished groups that were consistent with differences in annual dietary diversity, but other variables did not distinguish such groups. The overall variance in microwear variables for each species in this sample was also significantly correlated with the species’s annual dietary diversity. However, the overall variance in microwear variables was more strongly correlated with annual frequencies of fruit and foliage consumption. Although some variation due to seasonal and geographic differences among individuals was present, this variation was small in comparison to the variation among species. Finally, no association was found between short-term monthly dietary variation and variation in microwear textures.

These results suggest that greater variation in microwear textures is correlated with greater annual dietary diversity in Cercopithecidae, but that variation may be more closely related to the frequencies of fruit and foliage in the diet.

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Date Created
2015

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The dietary competitive environment of the origination and early diversification of euprimates in North America

Description

The earliest Eocene marked the appearance of the first North American euprimates (adapids, omomyids). Despite the fact that leading hypotheses assert that traits involved in food acquisition underlie euprimate origination and early diversification, the precise role that dietary competition played

The earliest Eocene marked the appearance of the first North American euprimates (adapids, omomyids). Despite the fact that leading hypotheses assert that traits involved in food acquisition underlie euprimate origination and early diversification, the precise role that dietary competition played in establishing euprimates as successful members of mammalian communities is unclear. This is because the degree of niche overlap between euprimates and all likely mammalian dietary competitors ("the euprimate competitive guild") is unknown. This research determined which of three major competition hypotheses - non-competition, strong competition, and weak competition - characterized the late Paleocene-early Eocene euprimate competitive guild. Each of these hypotheses is defined by a unique temporal pattern of niche overlap between euprimates and their non-euprimate competitors, allowing an evaluation of the nature of dietary competitive interactions surrounding the earliest euprimates in North America. Dietary niches were reconstructed for taxa within the fossil euprimate competitive guild using molar morphological measures determined to discriminate dietary regimes in two extant mammalian guilds. The degree of dietary niche separation among taxa was then evaluated across a series of fossil samples from the Bighorn Basin, Wyoming just prior to, during, and after euprimate origination. Statistical overlap between each pair of euprimate and non-euprimate dietary niches was determined using modified multivariate pairwise comparisons using distances in a multidimensional principal component "niche" space. Results indicate that euprimate origination and diversification in North America was generally characterized by the absence of dietary competition. This lack of competition with non-euprimates is consistent with an increase in the abundance and diversity of euprimates during the early Eocene, signifying that the "success" of euprimates may not be the result of direct biotic interactions between euprimates and other mammals. An examination of the euprimate dietary niche itself determined that adapids and omomyids occupied distinct niches and did not engage in dietary competition during the early Eocene. Furthermore, changes in euprimate dietary niche size over time parallel major climatic shifts. Reconstructing how both biotic and abiotic mechanisms affected Eocene euprimates has the potential to enhance our understanding of these influences on modern primate communities.

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Date Created
2014