South African Homininis

Collaborators: A. Martinez-Garcia (MPIC), M. Bamford and D. Stratford (ESI and U Witwatersrand), and others.

The overarching goal of this pilot study is to reconstruct the position of southern African Australopithecus in its paleo-food web to evaluate the consumption of animal vs. plant resources in this taxon. We first analyzed carbon, nitrogen and oxygen isotope compromissions of the mammalian fauna at Sterkfontein Member 4 (~2.6 to 2.2 Ma) to establish an isotope baseline for contextualizing hominin values. We then measured the tooth enamel of seven Australopithecus specimens. Our results represent the first δ15Nenamel dataset for early Pleistocene hominins and the only nitrogen isotope data for terrestrial vertebrates older than 120,000 years.

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