Examination of the Florisbad microvertebrates

  • Patrick J. Lewis Department of Biological Sciences, Sam Houston State University
  • James S. Brink Florisbad Quaternary Research Department, National Museum
  • Alicia M. Kennedy Department of Biology, Villanova University
  • Timothy L. Campbell Department of Anthropology, Texas A&M University
Keywords: Pleistocene, palaeoenvironment, microfauna, Otomyinae, Gerbillinae, Bitis


Florisbad is a Middle Stone Age locality in the Free State Province, South Africa, well known for an archaic Homo sapiens cranium discovered there in 1932. Whilst substantial work has been accomplished on the materials excavated from this site, there is still more to be learned about the palaeoenvironment from the microvertebrates. In broader terms, the make-up and distribution of the Plio-Pleistocene small animal fauna of the Free State Province is underrepresented relative to other provinces, which negatively impacts our understanding of geographic and temporal ranges of many Plio-Pleistocene taxa. Much of the Florisbad small vertebrate material is fragmentary, with diagnostic elements primarily limited to isolated molars. Analysis of this material found a small but diverse assemblage including springhares, rabbits, rodents and reptiles. The small mammal fauna is dominated by springhares, lagomorphs and otomyine and gerbilline rodents. In agreement with previous research on sediments and large mammal fauna, the small animal fauna described here is consistent with an open, treeless grassland.

Author Biographies

Patrick J. Lewis, Department of Biological Sciences, Sam Houston State University
Associate Professor
James S. Brink, Florisbad Quaternary Research Department, National Museum
Centre for Environmental Management, University of the Free State
South Africa


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