DOI: 10.1101/482711Nov 29, 2018Paper

A multiscale stratigraphic investigation of the context of StW 573 Little Foot and Member 2, Sterkfontein Caves, South Africa

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Laurent BruxellesRonald J Clarke


The Sterkfontein Caves has an 80 year history of yielding remarkable evidence of hominin evolution and is currently the world's richest Australopithecus-bearing site. Included in Sterkfontein's hominin assemblage is StW 573 (Little Foot). Discovered in the Member 2 deposit in the Silberberg Grotto, StW 573 represents the most complete Australopithecus skeleton yet found. Because of its importance to the fossil hominin record, the geological age of Little Foot has been the subject of significant debate. Two main hypotheses have been proposed regarding the formation and age of Member 2 and by association StW 573. The first, proposes that Member 2 formed relatively rapidly, starting to accumulate at around 2.8 million years ago and that the unit is isolated to the Silberberg Grotto - the underlying chambers and passages forming later. The second proposes that Member 2 formed slowly, its accumulation starting before 3.67 million years ago and that the deposit extends into the Milner Hall and close to the base of the cave system. Both assume a primary association between StW 573 and Member 2, although which sediments in the Silberberg Grotto are associated with Member 2 has also been questioned. Recently a third alternative hypothes...Continue Reading

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