• Palaeoenvironmental reconstruction: evidence for seasonality at Allia Bay, Kenya, at 3.9 million years

      Macho, Gabriele A.; Jiang, Y.; Leakey, M.G.; Williamson, D.K. (2003)
      In an earlier study, stress lines in primate teeth were found to occur on a recurrent basis, probably corresponding to seasonal fluctuations in environmental parameters, such as food availability (Macho et al., J. Hum. Evol. 30 (1996) 57¿70). In the present study this approach was extended to the study of teeth of extant and extinct mammals, with the specific aim to determine the pattern of seasonality at the Australopithecus anamensis-bearing site at Allia Bay, Kenya. It was found that extant and extinct species, who share similar dietary/ecological adaptations, are comparable in their patterns of stress. Typical browsers/mixed feeders were found to exhibit three recurrent disturbances per year, whereas grazers usually only exhibit two. The average spacing between lines is also comparable between extant and extinct species. Hence, while the severity and predictability of the seasons probably fluctuated during crucial periods of hominin evolution, there is little doubt that all hominins lived in a seasonal environment. At Allia Bay, the pattern of stress lines found in mammals suggests that the environmental conditions in which A. anamensis lived may have been comparable to those found in the Masai Mara today.