Figure 5. | Geological and taphonomic context for the new hominin species Homo naledi from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa

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Geological and taphonomic context for the new hominin species Homo naledi from the Dinaledi Chamber, South Africa

Figure 5.

Affiliation details

James Cook University, Australia; University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa; University of Johannesburg, South Africa; University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States; Simon Fraser University, Canada; University of Colorado Denver, United States; Duke University, United States; Texas A&M University, United States; University of Zurich, Switzerland; American University, United States
Figure 5.
Download figureOpen in new tabFigure 5. Data and characteristics of cave floor sediments (Facies 2) from the Dinaledi and Dragon's Back Chambers.

(A) Grain size distribution of sample UW101-SO-39 (Figure 2C). The bulk of the sample material falls within a size fraction corresponding to silt and fine-grained sand. Some coarser mudstone fragments did not disintegrate when immersed in water, likely due to considerable Mn- and Fe-oxide micro-concretionary development in the orange mudstone. Because some mudstone fragments are well lithified the particle size distribution is skewed towards the coarser grain-size values. (B) Results of XRF analyses of bulk samples of three floor sediments from the Dinaledi Chamber (UW101-SO31, -34 and -39) and one from the Dragon's Back chamber (DB-1). The sample from the Dragon's Back Chamber has a radically different composition from those of the Dinaledi Chamber, with the high SiO2 content reflecting its dominance of quartz. The Dinaledi samples have much higher Al2O3 and K2O contents than DB-1, indicating a higher content of clay minerals and mica, and higher CaO, MgO, MnO, and total Fe oxide contents which reflect alterations and inclusions. The higher P2O5 content of the Dinaledi samples is probably located in comminuted bone fragments which are seen macroscopically. The volatiles content (LOI) of the Dinaledi samples is also higher than in DB-1, in accord with a higher total clay mineral and mica content. (CE) Backscattered electron (BSE) wide-field images of grain mounts from floor sediments. Brighter shades indicate the presence of heavier elements, mainly Mn and Fe in altered grains. (C) DB-1, Dragon's Back Chamber, large fragments are quartz and chert, partly altered. (D) UW101-SO34. (E) UW101-SO39. In these samples the large fragments are almost exclusively clay; note their angular shape which shows these to be locally derived.