17 August 2022 The Future is the Product of the Past

Ancient eggshell in the Northern Cape hiding 300,000 years of history

Evidence from an ancient eggshell has revealed important new information about the extreme climate change faced by human early ancestors.

The research shows that the interior of South Africa today was dry and sparsely populated, once wetland and grassland, at a pivotal time in human evolution between 250,000 and 350,000 years ago.

According to new evidence from an old ostrich eggshell, this was a “Garden of Eden” with lush grazing and wetlands between 250,000 and 350,000 years ago.

The University of Exeter’s Philip Kiberd and Alex Pryor investigated isotopes and amino acids in ostrich eggshell pieces found from an early middle Stone Age site. According to archaeologists, the finds provide crucial new information about the severe climatic shift that human early ancestors experienced.

Bundu Farm, located 50 kilometers west of Prieska in the Upper Karoo, is one of a few southern African archaeological sites linked with the first appearance of populations bearing Homo sapiens genetic markers.

The yellow pin shows the location of Bundu Farm in the Northern Cape.
The yellow pin shows the location of Bundu Farm in the Northern Cape. Photo: Google Earth

The new research backs up evidence from fossilized animal bones indicating previous populations in the region coexisted with species that were far distant from the occasional steenbok, rabbit, hare, aardvark, porcupine, and jackal that the landscape presently supports.

They hunted with lions and hyenas for wildebeest, zebra, small antelope, hippos, baboons, and extinct species of Megalotragus Priscus (akin to a hybrid between a hartebeest and a wildebeest) and Cape gigantic zebra (Equus capensis).

From around 200,000 years ago, colder and wetter temperatures gave way to rising aridity, according to eggshell evidence and other findings at Bundu Farm.

This dynamic of alternating wet and dry climates are recognized as driving the turnover and evolution of species, including Homo sapiens.

A fragment of ancient ostrich shell embedded in calcrete from Bundu Farm. Photo: Philip Kiberd
A fragment of ancient ostrich shell embedded in calcrete from Bundu Farm. Photo: Philip Kiberd

Kiberd, who led the study, said: “This part of SA is now extremely arid, but thousands of years ago it would have been Eden-like landscape with lakes and rivers and abundant species of flora and fauna. Our analysis of the ostrich eggshell helps us to better understand the environments in which our ancestors were evolving and provides an important context in which to interpret the behaviors and adaptations of people in the past and how this ultimately led to the evolution of our species.”

This research has been published in the South African Archaeological Bulletin.

Research results show that extracting isotopic data from ostrich eggshells is a viable option for open-air sites more than 200,000 years old.

The process, which includes grinding a little portion of the eggshell to a powder, allows scientists to analyze and date the shell, providing information about the former climate and habitat. Ostriches consume the freshest leaves of shrubs and grasses in their habitat, thus the makeup of their shell mirrors their diet.

Because eggs are laid during a limited period of time during the breeding season, the information collected in eggshells offers a picture of the prevailing habitat and climate for a specific period of time. Bundu Farm was originally excavated in the late 1990s, and the material recovered is housed at the McGregor Museum in Kimberley.

Banner
Related Post

Ancient rubbish dump under Hatshepsut temple reveals hundreds of artifacts

24 November 2021

24 November 2021

Polish archaeologists uncovered a 3,500-year-old dump while working on the reconstruction of the Hathor Goddess Chapel, which is part of...

Neolithic Age Adults and Children Buried Under Family Homes were not Relative

3 May 2021

3 May 2021

An international team of scientists found that Children and adults buried next to each other in one of the oldest...

The 3,200-year-old perfume of Tapputi, the first female chemist in history, came to life again

24 July 2022

24 July 2022

One of the scent formulas written in Akkadian on clay tablets by Tapputi, known as the world’s first female perfumer...

Excavation of Carlisle Roman bathhouse uncovers a connection between the site and a third-century Roman emperor

27 September 2021

27 September 2021

Excavation of a Roman bath at the Carlisle Cricket Club in Stanwix, part of the Uncovering Roman Carlisle project, has...

Neanderthal Footprints Discovered On the Beach of Matalascañas (Huelva)

4 May 2021

4 May 2021

A stroll along the beach of Matalascanas (Huelva) in June of last year unearthed a spectacular scenario that occurred in...

Urartian graves in eastern Turkey pointing out novel burial traditions

21 September 2021

21 September 2021

The excavations in Cavuştepe castle continue with the excavations in the necropolis this year. Two new tombs from the Urartian...

Unusual construction material may be linked to the Tower of Babel

5 November 2021

5 November 2021

Archaeologists have recently discovered bitumen and mortar plastered onto a brick dating back to the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II. This...

Sumatran fishing crews may have found the legendary Gold Island in the Mud of the Indonesian River

24 October 2021

24 October 2021

The site of the Srivijaya kingdom, known in ancient times as the Island of Gold, may have been found by...

Silver coins found near the ruins of the medieval monastery in Holy island

10 November 2021

10 November 2021

Archaeologists have discovered a silver coin on Lindisfarne, known as Holy Island, in the northeast of England. Dig Ventures is...

Archaeologists discover a 4,000-year-old stone board game in Oman

10 January 2022

10 January 2022

The joint Polish-Omani archaeology team has discovered a 4,000-year-old stone board game whilst excavating a Bronze Age and Iron Age...

Unique Scythian glass pendants found in the Poltava region of Ukraine

8 October 2021

8 October 2021

Archaeologists have unearthed unique amphora-shaped pendants near the town of Kotelva in the Poltava oblast of central Ukraine. A team...

Salvage Excavations Started in Giresun Island on Turkey’s Black Sea Coast

18 May 2021

18 May 2021

Rescue excavations are starting again on Giresun Island, where the first examples of human settlement in the Black Sea Region...

A spectacular rare ancient Roman bronze coin depicting the moon goddess was discovered off the coast of Israel

25 July 2022

25 July 2022

A rare 1850-year-old exceptionally well-preserved bronze coin depicting the Roman moon goddess Luna has been found off the coast of...

409 silver coins, found in the Mleiha area of Sharjah, were inspired by Alexander the Great and the Seleucid dynasty

17 July 2021

17 July 2021

409 silver coins dating to the 3rd century have been found in the Mleiha area of Sharjah in the United...

Ancient Mythical Castle “Sörby Borg” Discovered on Swedish Island Creates Archaeological Sensation

4 August 2021

4 August 2021

A text from the early 18th century mentions the castle, which has become a bit of a legend. It has...

Comments
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.