Geological, geochronological, geomorphological, and faunal context of the Malapa site and the fossils of Australopithecus sediba

We describe the geological, geochronological, geomorphological, and faunal context of the Malapa site and the fossils of Australopithecus sediba. The hominins occur with a macrofauna assemblage that existed in Africa between 2.36 and 1.50 million years ago (Ma). The fossils are encased in water-laid, clastic sediments that were deposited along the lower parts of what is now a deeply eroded cave system, immediately above a flowstone layer with a U-Pb date of 2.026 ± 0.021 Ma. The flowstone has a reversed paleomagnetic signature and the overlying hominin-bearing sediments are of normal polarity, indicating deposition during the 1.95- to 1.78-Ma Olduvai Subchron. The two hominin specimens were buried together in a single debris flow that lithified soon after deposition in a phreatic environment inaccessible to scavengers.

    Data Record Details
    Data record related to this publication Geological, geochronological, geomorphological, and faunal context of the Malapa site and the fossils of Australopithecus sediba
    Data Publication title Geological, geochronological, geomorphological, and faunal context of the Malapa site and the fossils of Australopithecus sediba
  • Description

    We describe the geological, geochronological, geomorphological, and faunal context of the Malapa site and the fossils of Australopithecus sediba. The hominins occur with a macrofauna assemblage that existed in Africa between 2.36 and 1.50 million years ago (Ma). The fossils are encased in water-laid, clastic sediments that were deposited along the lower parts of what is now a deeply eroded cave system, immediately above a flowstone layer with a U-Pb date of 2.026 ± 0.021 Ma. The flowstone has a reversed paleomagnetic signature and the overlying hominin-bearing sediments are of normal polarity, indicating deposition during the 1.95- to 1.78-Ma Olduvai Subchron. The two hominin specimens were buried together in a single debris flow that lithified soon after deposition in a phreatic environment inaccessible to scavengers.

  • Other Descriptors
    • Descriptor

      There are two datasets in this record: 1. Paleo-anthropology data: TEXT S1. Fossil preservation, ontogenetic age, and sex of Malapa hominins. TEXT S2. Comparative craniodental materials examined in this study. TEXT S3. Character states based on measures from Table 2. TEXT S4. Digital reconstruction and virtual preparation. Five figures and two tables accompany the text. 2. Geological Data: Geological context and absolute age of the Malapa Australopithecus sediba skeletons from U-Pb dating of flowstone from the Malapa site, magnetostratigraphy of the Malapa site and cosmogenic isotope studies.

    • Descriptor type Note
    • Descriptor

      The data is in pdf format.

    • Descriptor type Note
    • Descriptor
    • Descriptor type Note
  • Data type dataset
  • Keywords
    • fossil record
    • clastic sediment
    • fossil assemblage
    • hominid
    • cave system
    • australopithecus sediba
    • paleomagnetism
    • uranium-lead dating
    • olduvai event
    • phreatic zone
  • Funding source
  • Research grant(s)/Scheme name(s)
  • Research themes
    Not aligned to a University theme
    FoR Codes (*)
    • 040303 - Geochronology (040303)
    • 040311 - Stratigraphy (incl. Biostratigraphy and Sequence Stratigraphy) (040311)
    • 040310 - Sedimentology (040310)
    SEO Codes
    • 970104 - Expanding Knowledge in the Earth Sciences (970104)
    Specify spatial or temporal setting of the data
    Temporal (time) coverage
  • Start Date 2008/01/01
  • End Date
  • Time Period
    Spatial (location) coverage
  • Locations
    • Malapa Fossil Site, Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, South Africa
    Data Locations

    Type Location Notes
    Physical Location Prof Paul Dirks, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University, Building 34, James Cook Drive, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia, Tel: +61 7478 15047
    Attachment Geological_and_Paleontological_data_DIRKS_et_al_Au_sediba_15_01_10_SOM_final.zip
    The Data Manager is: Paulus Dirks
    College or Centre
    Access conditions Open
  • Alternative access conditions
  • Data record size
    Select or add a licence for the data
    The data will be licensed under
  • Other Licence
  • Statement of rights in data Licensing: Creative Commons - Attribution alone (by)
  • Data owners
      James Cook University
    Citation Dirks, Paulus (2011): Geological, geochronological, geomorphological, and faunal context of the Malapa site and the fossils of Australopithecus sediba. James Cook University.