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The taphonomy of the micromammals from the Late Middle Pleistocene site of Hoedjiespunt 1 (Cape Province, South Africa)



The taphonomy of the micromammals from the Late Middle Pleistocene site of Hoedjiespunt 1 (Cape Province, South Africa)



Journal of Taphonomy, 41: 1-16



The palaeontological site of Hoedjiespunt 1 (HDPI) has been dated to the late Middle Pleistocene. The rich mammalian fauna, recovered from the site, including four hominid teeth, is believed to have been accumulated by a hyaena. Micromammals were recovered from within the same horizons as the macro fauna. Previous analyses of the micromammals from the hyaena lair did not include a taphonomic analysis, and the agent of accumulation was assumed to be the hyaena responsible for the accumulation of the larger mammals. This assumption had not, however; been verified by a taphonomic analysis of the micromammal assemblages. A taxonomic and taphonomic study was thus carried out on the HDPI micromammals in order to identify the predator(s) or agents responsible for the micromammal accumulation, and to evaluate the suitability of the assemblage for palacoenvironmental analysis. The general pattern of species distribution of the murids from the two main fossil-bearing horizons at Hoedjiespunt I suggests that the micromammals have come from the same, original assemblage. The similarity observed in the micromammal taxonomy of these horizons is echoed in the taphonomy. The digestion on prey incisors, together with the range and activity patterns of prey species, suggests that the predator responsible for the fossil accumulation was a barn owl. The assemblage may provide a brief window into the micromammal population living on the west coast, in the immediate vicinity of the site, during the late Middle Pleistocene.

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