A New Pleistocene Hominin Tracksite from the Cape South Coast, South Africa

Charles W. Helm, Richard T. McCrea, Hayley C. Cawthra, Martin G. Lockley, Richard M. Cowling, Curtis Marean, Guy H.H. Thesen, Tammy S. Pigeon, Sineàd Hattingh

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Abstract

A Late Pleistocene hominin tracksite has been identified in coastal aeolianite rocks on the Cape south coast of South Africa, an area of great significance for the emergence of modern humans. The tracks are in the form of natural casts and occur on the ceiling and side walls of a ten-metre long cave. Preservation of tracks is of variable quality. Up to forty hominin tracks are evident. Up to thirty-five hominin tracks occur on a single bedding plane, with potential for the exposure of further tracks. Five tracks are apparent on a second hominin track-bearing bedding plane. A number of individuals made the tracks while moving down a dune surface. A geological investigation at the site and stratigraphic comparison to published geochronological studies from this area suggest that the tracks are ∼90 ka in age. If this is the case, the shoreline at the time would have been approximately 2 km distant. This is the first reported hominin tracksite from this time period. It adds to the relatively sparse global record of early hominin tracks, and represents the largest and best preserved archive of Late Pleistocene hominin tracks found to date. The tracks were probably made by Homo sapiens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3772
JournalScientific Reports
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

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    Helm, C. W., McCrea, R. T., Cawthra, H. C., Lockley, M. G., Cowling, R. M., Marean, C., Thesen, G. H. H., Pigeon, T. S., & Hattingh, S. (2018). A New Pleistocene Hominin Tracksite from the Cape South Coast, South Africa. Scientific Reports, 8(1), [3772]. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-22059-5