Phytoliths infer locally dense and heterogeneous paleovegetation at FLK North and surrounding localities during upper Bed I time, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania

Doris Barboni, Gail M. Ashley, Manuel Dominguez-Rodrigo, Henry T. Bunn, Audax Z.P. Mabulla, Enrique Baquedano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations

Abstract

The phytolith content of 10 samples collected immediately under Tuff IF (~. 1.785. Ma) at FLK N and other surrounding localities (~. 2. km2) provides a direct botanical evidence for woody vegetation in the eastern margin of Olduvai Gorge during uppermost Bed I time. Observation and counting of 143 phytolith types (5 to >150 μ) reveal dense but heterogeneous woody cover (~. 40-90%) of unidentified trees and/or shrubs and palms associated to the freshwater springs surrounding FLK N, and more open formation (presumably ~. 25-70% woody cover) in the southeast at localities VEK, HWK W and HWK E. The paleovegetation is best described as groundwater palm forest/woodland or bushland, which current analogue may be found near Lake Manyara in similar hydrogeological context (freshwater springs near saline/alkaline lake). Re-evaluating the published pollen data based on this analogy shows that 70% of the pollen signal at FLK N may be attributed to thicket-woodland, Acacia groundwater woodland, gallery and groundwater forests; while < 30% is attributed to swamp herbage and grasslands. Micro-botanical, isotopic, and taphonomical studies of faunal remains converge on the same conclusion that the area surrounding FLK N, which attracted both carnivores and hominins in the early Pleistocene, was densely wooded during uppermost Bed I time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)344-354
Number of pages11
JournalQuaternary Research
Volume74
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

Keywords

  • East Africa
  • Hominin
  • Opal-A
  • Paleoenvironment
  • Pleistocene
  • Silica bodies

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