Diversity of plant niches available for Hominin settlement during Upper Bed I- Lower Bed II: A phytolith perspective, Oldupai Gorge (Tanzania)
AuthorItambu, Makarius Peter
Committee MemberMcDonald, Mary M. A.
Walde, Dale A.
Mather, Charles M.
Willoughby, Pamela Rae
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AbstractThis research focused on reconstructing the diversity of plant landscapes that framed hominin evolution in Oldupai Gorge. The study had two main overarching goals with interrelated objectives. The first goal was to assess the synergetic links between hominin habitats and ecological preferences during the Pleistocene at Oldupai Gorge, and the second was the reconstruction of vegetation patterns characteristic during Upper Most Bed I to Lower Most Bed II. It also aimed at the reconstruction of plant landscape and the diversity of ecological niches for hominin interactions in a variety of sedimentary environments during the 1.83-1.60 million years ago. In an attempt to understand the spatial-temporal distribution of plant landscape in specific sites and across the landscape, we employed high resolution and horizon level sampling approaches to examine differences in phytoliths representation between the sites and the exposed palaeosols. Sediments were systematically collected from trenches at Frida Leakey Korongo-North, Frida Korongo-West, Castle sites; and from the exposed palaeosols at the Lower Augitic Sanstone and at the Bird Print Tuff. Sediments were collected according to stratigraphic layering and features. In the laboratory, sediment samples were sieved, dispersed, and treated with acids for removal of inorganic and organic matter prior to heavy liquid separation. After phytolith extraction, microscopy, counting, classification, the phytolith morphotypes were analysed and interpreted in order to provide ecological inferences and thus explain the vegetation distribution between the sites. Phytolith assemblages applied in this research were used to identify the palaeosurface and ecosystems that characterised UMBI and LMBII sites to be able to infer whether the landscape wooded, forested, or grassland dominated environments. This is especially true because phytolith data are the key tool for palaeoecological interpretations that is used to inform about ancient landscapes that were inhabited by our ancestors, and the ability to characterise similarity of the vegetation cover existed during key period under study.
CitationItambu, M. P. (2020). Diversity of plant niches available for Hominin settlement during Upper Bed I- Lower Bed II: A phytolith perspective, Oldupai Gorge (Tanzania) (Unpublished doctoral thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.
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