Distribution of mammalian fauna during the early Pleistocene of the Koobi Fora Formation, east Turkana, Kenya
Hakala, Sarah Elizabeth
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The Plio-Pleistocene is a significant period of climatic, environmental, and faunal change in the Turkana Basin. This study presents a faunal analysis among three members (Upper Burgi, KBS, and Okote) of the Koobi Fora Formation in East Turkana that date from 2.0 to 1.39 Ma (million years ago), encompassing the period when C4 grasslands came to dominate the local vegetation and when hominins were diversifying. The Turkana Basin Paleontology Database is used to analyze temporal differences in faunal proportions among the three members. Results from fieldwork in the summer of 2011 supplement the larger-scale analysis. Bovids are the most abundant family throughout samples from the three members, and they highlight the mosaic nature of the environment. Suids, cercopithecids, and equids are the next most abundant families. These groups indicate the presence of grasslands during the KBS and Okote Members. The diversity of environments, evidenced by the diverse habitat preferences and adaptations of these mammals, provided opportunities for hominin speciation through the exploitation of different habitats and versatility in feeding niches.