The Oldowan and Early Acheulean Mammalian Fauna of Wonderwerk Cave (Northern Cape Province, South Africa)


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Publication Date

July 2016


We describe and discuss the large vertebrates recovered from the basal layers (Strata 12 and 11) of Excavation 1 at Wonderwerk Cave, a site located in the Kuruman Hills, Northern Cape Province, South Africa. Stratum 12 is associated with a small core and flake Oldowan assemblage while Stratum 11 contains some Acheulean material. Based on palaeo-magnetism, the time span covered by these Strata is estimated to date to ca.1.8–1.1 million years ago. Taxa identified include late Makapanian forms, such as Procavia transvaalensis, Procavia antiqua, a hipparionine and an unnamed species of large caprine, also found in the Makapan Limeworks deposits, confirming the antiquity of these layers. The bones are highly fragmented due to the action of multiple agencies, both pre- and postdepositional, which prevented diagnosis in many cases to lower levels of taxonomy. In support of other palaeo-environmental proxies from Strata 12 and 11, the large mammal remains reflect a semi-arid ecotone palaeo-environment, consisting of a mix of taxa associated with broken, montane habitat and semi-arid grassland-savanna plains habitat.


Early Pleistocene, Mammals, Oldowan, Early Acheulean, South Africa

Document Type



African Archaeological Review, Vol. 33 (2016-07-11).