SEMINAR: Archaeology Seminar Series 2017
|Archaeology Seminar Series 2017 : Megafauna mass deaths at Lancefield Swamp, southeastern Australia: a case study in extinction processes?
The deaths of thousands of giant kangaroos (Macropus giganteus titan) in one location make for an impressive palaeontological site. Deposition of macropod remains at Lancefield Swamp, Victoria (south-eastern Australia),
spans the period of human arrival in Australia, although the site provides limited evidence of human activity. Exploration of the factors causing mass deaths has focussed on the timing of site formation events and the
local and regional context. Dating has proved challenging, but recently published results from OSL and ESR analyses, combined with taphonomic and sedimentological studies, indicate that in situ macropod remains
date from c.80,000 to c.45,000 years ago. The faunal assemblage is dominated by megafaunal adult Macropus, consistent with mass die-offs due to severe drought. Such droughts may have recurred over millennia during
the climatic variability of Marine Isotope Stages 4 and 3. In this scenario, only the very youngest fossil deposits at Lancefield could be coeval with the earliest human arrivals, and anthropogenic causes cannot be implicated
in most macropod deaths at the site. Climatic and environmental changes were the main factors in site formation and megafauna deaths at Lancefield Swamp. It also appears that megafauna recovered between
putative drought periods, and either disappeared or were dwarfed some millennia after humans appeared in the record. These particular observations suggest that extinction processes are complex and multiple, possibly
synergistic factors are involved.
Joe Dortch, Research Fellow: Archaeology and, Centre for Rock Art Research and Management, UWA
Social Sciences, Lecture Room 1 (G28)
Thu, 05 Oct 2017 16:00
Thu, 05 Oct 2017 17:00
Karen Eichorn <email@example.com>
Wed, 04 Oct 2017 10:46
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