A Model of the Extinct Palaeo-Agulhas Plain Ecosystem in Southernmost Africa

Author(s): Curtis Marean; Richard Cowling; Janet Franklin

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Human Interactions with Extinct Fauna" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Unlike some regions, Africa was not subject to massive and abrupt mammalian extinction events in the Late Quaternary, but some African regions were subject to abrupt extinctions of small numbers of species. The coast of South Africa records such an extinction event near the Pleistocene and Holocene boundary. These extinct species were all adapted to grassland environments and the fossil assemblages in the Pleistocene suggest a dominance by grassland species. However, this region today is the well-known Greater Cape Floristic Region (GCFR), a shrub-land ecosystem, and it does not currently contain appropriate grasslands for these species. Offshore and currently under water was a plain once exposed by lowered sea levels, and our research group has defined this as an ancient ecosystem we call the Palaeo-Agulhas Plains. This was the primary habitat for these extinct species, and the favored hunting grounds for the humans inhabiting the many well-known archaeological sites that have been excavated here. Our research group has conducted a wide range of multi-disciplinary studies that together allow us to build a model of this now submerged ecosystem, and here we summarize that model and contextualize this small-scale extinction event more broadly within the overall extinction of this ancient ecosystem.

Cite this Record

A Model of the Extinct Palaeo-Agulhas Plain Ecosystem in Southernmost Africa. Curtis Marean, Richard Cowling, Janet Franklin. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450817)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.721; min lat: -35.174 ; max long: 61.699; max lat: 27.059 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23484