Carbon Enamel Isotopes as Proxy for Dietary Changes in the Omo-Turkana Basin between 2 and 1.4 Ma


This is an abstract from the "SAA 2019: General Sessions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Despite the numerous hominin fossils found in the Omo-Turkana Basin dating to between 2.0 and 1.4 Ma., a resolved understanding of their dietary ecology has been challenging due to limited research on similar patterns in contemporaneous large mammals In this study, we use a sample (n = 390) of enamel δ13C values of six Bovidae, Suidae, and Equidae taxa as proxies of their diets. We focused on hyper-grazing taxa due to the highly specific dietary niche. These samples were assigned locational classifications based on their relationship to the reconstructed depositional center of the basin during this period. Based on their spatial relationship with the center of the Basin, fossils from Ileret, Koobi Fora, and West Turkana were designated as axial, while those from Karari are referred to as marginal. Between 1.87 and 1.56 Ma, Alcelaphine bovids and Metridiochoerus in the margin have more depleted δ13C values compared to the axis. These depleted values indicate that margin was likely less conducive towards C4 vegetation despite the elevated indicators of C4 plants in the axial regions of our analyses. Further δ13C studies of the basin would provide a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between paleogeography and heterogeneity within the broader paleoecosystem.

Cite this Record

Carbon Enamel Isotopes as Proxy for Dietary Changes in the Omo-Turkana Basin between 2 and 1.4 Ma. Joshua Porter, Maryse Biernat, W. Andrew Barr, David Patterson, David Braun. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 449353)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: 24.082; min lat: -26.746 ; max long: 56.777; max lat: 17.309 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 24704