Late Quaternary extinct ungulates of East Africa and palaeoenvironmental implications

Curtis W. Marean, Diane Gifford-Gonzalez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

41 Scopus citations

Abstract

UNGULATE communities of two East African savannas, the Serengeti and Athi-Kapiti Plains, are dominated by wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) supplemented by zebra (Equus burchelli), topi (Damaliscus lunatus), hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus), buffalo (Syncerus caffer) eland (Taurotragus oryx) and gazelles (Gazella grand and G. thomsoni)1-3. Before this research, little was known of East African large mammal communities in the Late Pleistocene and early to middle Holocene. We document an extinct impala-sized alcelaphine antelope that is numerically dominant in Late Pleistocene archaeofaunal assemblages from the Athi-Kapiti Plains. The extinct giant buffalo Pelorovis antiquus is present, and a number of arid-adapted regionally extinct species are common. The small alcelaphine is rare in northern Tanzania, but regionally extinct arid-adapted species are present in Late Pleistocene deposits. These data indicate that as recently as 12,000 years ago, the large mammal community structure of East African savannas was very different and dry grasslands and arid-adapted ungulates expanded at least as far south as northern Tanzania during the Last Glacial Maximum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)418-420
Number of pages3
JournalNature
Volume350
Issue number6317
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991
Externally publishedYes

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