Shellfish gathering, marine paleoecology and modern human behavior: Perspectives from cave PP13B, Pinnacle Point, South Africa

Antonieta Jerardino, Curtis Marean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

119 Scopus citations

Abstract

Systematic collection of shellfish has been increasingly recognized as an important component of human adaptation to aquatic environments and as part of the archaeological evidence found in association with the appearance of early Homo sapiens. Over the last forty years, South Africa has played a prominent role in recording the earliest evidence of shellfish in and substantial expansion of the early human diets as shown by several Middle Stone Age (MSA) coastal sites along the west and south coasts. In this paper, we report on the abundance of marine invertebrate species from PP13B cave and interpret these abundances in terms of paleoenvironmental changes, the likely shellfish procurement behaviors involved in both rocky and sandy shore contexts, and the significance of the collection of marine shells for purposes other than food collection. Possible cognitive implications of shellfish gathering as a reflection of modern behavior are also suggested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)412-424
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of human evolution
Volume59
Issue number3-4
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2010

Keywords

  • Middle Stone Age
  • Mollusks
  • Mossel Bay
  • Shell midden

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology

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