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Publication Detail
Isotopic Evidence for the Geographic Origin, Movement and Diet of the Hofmeyr Individual
  • Publication Type:
  • Authors:
    Copeland SR, Grimes V, Neveling J, Lee-Thorp JA, Grine FE, Yang Z, Dean C, Richards MP
  • Publication date:
  • Pagination:
    47, 68
  • Status:
  • Book title:
    Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology
The Hofmeyr skull is a singular and important fossil find, dating to a period in the late Pleistocene when the human fossil record is extremely poorly represented in southern Africa. However, its lack of contextual evidence is a serious impediment to a complete appreciation of the specimen, requiring that every bit of information possible be extracted from the fossil itself. Here we investigate the mobility and dietary ecology of the Hofmeyr individual by analyzing the strontium (87Sr/86Sr), carbon (δ13C), and oxygen (δ18O) isotopic composition from molar tooth enamel. We compared the former against 87Sr/86Sr in the parietal bone, associated endocranial matrix, and bioavailable strontium isotopes from an 80 km radius of the find location. The strontium isotope data are consistent with a scenario in which the Hofmeyr individual lived in the study area as a youth. The δ18O value is consistent with expectations for an individual from the Karoo in a cooler Pleistocene climate. The δ13C value suggests that most dietary carbon was from C3 sources, with c. 15–20% from C4 plants (grasses or sedges) and/or the animals that consumed those plants.
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