Middle and late Pleistocene faunas of Pinnacle Point and their paleoecological implications

Amy L. Rector, Kaye Reed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


The Western Cape region of South Africa is home to a unique type of mediterranean vegetation called fynbos, as well as some of the earliest sites of modern human occupation in southern Africa. Reconstructing the paleohabitats during occupations of these early anatomically modern Homo sapiens is important for understanding the availability of resources to the humans during the development of behaviors that are often considered advanced. These reconstructions are critical to understanding the nature of the changes in the environment and resources over time. Here we analyze the craniodental fossils of the larger mammals recovered from two Pleistocene assemblages in the Pinnacle Point complex, Mossel Bay, Western Cape Region, South Africa. We reconstruct the paleohabitats as revealed by multivariate analyses of the mammalian community structures. Pinnacle Point 30 is a carnivore assemblage and Pinnacle Point 13B includes early evidence of a suite of modern human behavior; together they present an opportunity to identify environmental change over time at a localized geographic scale. Further, this is the first such study to include dated Western Cape localities from Marine Isotope Stage 6, a time of environmental pressure that may have marginalized human populations. Results indicate that environmental change in the Western Cape was more complex than generalized C4 grassland expansions replacing fynbos habitats during glacial lowered sea levels, and thus, resources available to early modern humans in the region may not have been entirely predictable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)340-357
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of human evolution
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Sep 2010


  • Fynbos
  • Mammal communities
  • Middle Stone Age
  • Paleoecology
  • South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology


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