Indian Leptobos fossils may show signs of cut marks made by hominins 2.6 mln years ago

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The Indo-French research program ‘Siwaliks’ has been surveying the Late Pliocene Formation of the Chandigarh anticline (NW India) since 2008. These sub-Himalayan floodplain deposits are known for their Tertiary-Quaternary transitional fauna, especially those from the Quranwala zone in the Masol Formation, whose basal member is approximately 130 meters below the Gauss/Matuyama paleomagnetic reversal (2.588 Ma).

Indian Leptobos fossils may show signs of cut marks made by hominins 2.6 million years ago
Two cheetahs of Sivapanthera linxiaensis are hunting a bovid 
of Leptobos brevicornis [Credit: Li Rongshan]

About 1500 fossils have been collected in the inlier of Masol, most often on recently eroded outcrops, and sometimes in association with stone tools (choppers, flakes). Many bones were covered by a variety of marks (animal, bioerosion and tectonics) and among these traces a few were intentional cut marks. Different methods have been applied in Paris (France) to describe their topography on a micron scale, using the 3D Digital Video Microscope Hirox, and completed with binocular microscopy at the Center for Research and Restoration of Museums of France (C2RMF), and X-ray microtomography with the AST-RX platform, at the National Museum of Natural History, Paris.

Indian Leptobos fossils may show signs of cut marks made by hominins 2.6 million years ago
Cut marks made on the metapodes of Sus scrofa domesticus by the 
sharp edge of a flake [Credit: A. Dambricourt Malassé et al.]

Experiments with quartzite cobbles collected near the fossils were carried out in India and in France. The mineralization of the traces is identical to the bone tissue, and comparison with our experimental cut marks confirms that the profiles are typical of the sharp edge of a flake or cobble in quartzite; their size and spatial organization testify to energetic and intentional gestures from an agile wrist acting with precision, and to a good knowledge of the bovid anatomy.

The findings have been published in the journal Comptes Rendus Palevol.

Source: UCL [February 04, 2016]

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