American Journal of Zoological Research
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American Journal of Zoological Research. 2014, 2(4), 55-61
DOI: 10.12691/ajzr-2-4-1
Open AccessArticle

Cave Usage by Multiple Taphonomic Agents: Issues towards Interpreting the Fossil Bearing Cave Deposits in South Africa

Alexandra C. Bountalis1 and Brian F Kuhn2,

1School of Geosciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, WITS, South Africa

2Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, WITS, South Africa

Pub. Date: December 31, 2014

Cite this paper:
Alexandra C. Bountalis and Brian F Kuhn. Cave Usage by Multiple Taphonomic Agents: Issues towards Interpreting the Fossil Bearing Cave Deposits in South Africa. American Journal of Zoological Research. 2014; 2(4):55-61. doi: 10.12691/ajzr-2-4-1


The current use of caves in South Africa by three distinct collectors of faunal remains, leopard (Pantherapardus), brown hyaena (Parahyaena brunnea) and porcupine (Hystrixafricaeaustralis) as well as other species of taphonomic significance raises serious questions with regard to the interpretation of the hominin bearing caves. As part of study using multiple camera traps to monitor a number of caves in the Cradle of Humankind over a period of at least 20 months, we found that an individual cave may be used by no less than seven species. The results indicate that identifying a single collector or modifier from a fossil assemblage which may span thousands of years is not as straightforward as previously hypothesized.

behavior taphonomy bone collecting brown hyaena warthog honey badger jackal porcupine leopard cave usage

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