Wikipedia and the scientific community
Marc Verhaegen: 22/10/2015AFAICS, A.naledi is a bonobo-like forest-swamp or wetland wader, feeding predom. on aquatic herbaceous vegetation AHV, e.g. waterlilies (google:
- The curved hand-bones suggest vertical climbing in the branches above the swamps.
- The long 1st & 5th fingers were less for tool use than for collecting AHV or for surface-swimming.
- The broad pelvises (iliac flaring & long femoral necks) were for sideward movements of the legs (femoral abduction): for climbing or
swimming, not for running.
- The flat humanlike feet are more flamingo- (plantigrade wader) than ostrich-like (digitigrade runner).
- The small front teeth & large cheekteeth can be expected with a diet of AHV.
- They fossilised in stagnant water (mud-stone).
Lowland gorillas often wade on 2 legs in forest swamps for AHV, e.g. papyrus sedges & frogbit (google: gorilla bai), but naledi apparently
exploited this special niche (AHV in swamp forests) habitually: no wonder there were no other macro-fauna near the naledi fossils.
It was no deliberate burial (cf small brains): when they died, their bodies sank into the mud (remarkably complete skeletons), and afterwards
the underground eroded to become a cave system?
But prof.Paul Dirks emails:
(1) The cave is at an altitude of 1500 metres on the South African Highveld, at the upper reaches of a drainage system.
(2) There are no wetlands anywhere in the area, and they probably did not exist in the past few million years in this general area.
(3) Climate at the time of deposition was dry and possibly already influenced by an influx of material blown in from the nearby Kalahari
I'm no geologist, so I'd like to hear to opinion of geologists. I've asked a few of them, but got no answer so far.
(1) There has been an uplift of S.Africa (some regions more than others?).
At the Dual Congress (1998) somebody told IIRC that there has been an uplift since A.africanus lived there of several hundred metres?
(2) Taung (A.africanus probably) was found at the edge of the Kalahari (cf Dart's osteo-kerato-lithic culture), but T.Partridge found the region was
"mesic" when Taung lived there.
(3) Kalahari material blown in is probably recent. In any case, mud is not dry.
The anatomy shows that naledi was aquarboreal.
Prof.Berger's interpretations are typically anthropocentric:
- A.naledi was no human ancestor (more humanlike feet are primitive, e.g. in prenatal chimps).
- It was no tool-maker (at least not more than chimps are).
- It was certainly no savanna runner (plantigrady).
- There were no deliberate burials, of course (small brain).
Who knows a bit of geology?
e.g. how could the mudstone get into the cave?
Can pollen of AHV or other plants be found in mudstone?
What was the fauna of the other caves?
Enamel thickness & micro-wear could give indications of what they ate. I'd think the microwear will resemble that of A.africanus or A.robustus
(more omnivory than the East-African australopiths, e.g. Also hard-shelled invertebrates?).
|Website: F. Mansfield, 2015|
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