Early Hominid Activities at Olduvai
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The earliest sites at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania are among the best documented and most important for studies of human evolution. This book investigates the behavior of hominids at Olduvai using data of stone tools and animal bones, as well as the results of work in taphonomy (how animals become fossils), the behavior of mammals, and a wide range of ecological theory and data. By illustrating the ways in which modern and prehistoric evidence is used in making interpretations, the author guides the reader through the geological, ecological, and archeological areas involved in the study of humans.
Based on his study of the Olduvai excavations, animal life, and stone tools, the author carefully examines conventional views and proposals about the early Olduvai sites. First, the evidence of site geology, tool cut marks, and other clues to the formation of the Olduvai sites are explored. On this basis, the large mammal communities in which early hominids lived are investigated, using methods which compare sites produced mainly by hominids with others made by carnivores. Questions about hominid hunting, scavenging, and the importance of eating meat are then scrutinized. The leading alternative positions on each issue are discussed, providing a basis for understanding some of the most contentious debates in paleo-anthropology today.
The dominant interpretive model for the artifact and bone accumulations at Olduvai and other Plio-Pleistocene sites has been that they represent "home bases," social foci similar to the campsites of hunter-gatherers. Based on paleo-ecological evidence and ecological models, the author critically analyzes the home base interpretation and proposes alternative views. A new view of the Olduvai sitesâ that they represent stone caches where hominids processed carcasses for foodâ is shown to have important implications for our understanding of hominid social behavior and evolution.
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... large mammals that ranged in size from gazelle (over 12 kg) to elephant. Most of the faunal remains were broken ... large mammal communities that existed at Olduvai are an important context for understanding the possible ecological roles ...
... large percentage of the diet of many humans is composed of meat, especially from large mammals. Second, the eating of animal and plant foods is often delayed considerably after the food is obtained. It is often carried back to a home ...
... large mammals usually are not so sensitive as microfauna. Nonetheless, the large mammals of Bed I also suggest a diversity of habitats. This topic is investigated in Chapter 7. At that point, a close look at the fossil assemblages from ...
... large mammals, the latter as possible refuse from the meals of hominids. Thus, to reassess widely held views about early hominids, especially those concerning home base activities, all of the artifacts and fossils of large mammals (>2 ...
... mammal refers to large mammals (>2 kg). "The artifact samples from DK—2 and 3 are combined. "The total number of faunal specimens from FLK “Zinj” includes approximately 24,243 specimens of microfauna, bird remains, and other unidentified ...