Provenancing of Hominid and Mammalian Fossils from Kanjera, Kenya, using EDXRF
Plummer, Thomas W.
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We describe a rapid, non-destructive energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) technique for provenancing fossil bone, and apply it to surface collected fossils from Kanjera, Kenya. The locality is best known for its controversial anatomically modern human fossils, potentially among the earliest from Africa. Excavations of the 1987-1988 Smithsonian Expedition provided the in situ fossil sample necessary to provenance the previous finds. Relative Sr, Y, Zr, U, Rb, Rn and Th concentrations were used to characterize 301 fossils from six stratigraphic units, the sources of the surface fossils. Important fossils from past Kanjera expeditions, including the hominid and Theropithecus oswaldi samples, were analysed and their relative elemental values used to assign them to a reference sample. The hominids post-date Kanjera Formation deposition. The T. oswaldi fossils are largely attributable to the early Pleistocene Kanjera Bed KN-2A. Secondary deposition of Kanjera Formation fossils into later strata was noted. Keywords Kenya, Kanjera, Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence, Fossil Provenancing, Hominids, Baboons