Geological Setting and Age of Australopithecus sediba from Southern Africa Academic Article uri icon


  • We describe the geological, geochronological, geomorphological, and faunal context of the Malapa site and the fossils of Australopithecus sediba. The hominins occur with a macrofauna assemblage that existed in Africa between 2.36 and 1.50 million years ago (Ma). The fossils are encased in water-laid, clastic sediments that were deposited along the lower parts of what is now a deeply eroded cave system, immediately above a flowstone layer with a U-Pb date of 2.026 +/- 0.021 Ma. The flowstone has a reversed paleomagnetic signature and the overlying hominin-bearing sediments are of normal polarity, indicating deposition during the 1.95- to 1.78-Ma Olduvai Subchron. The two hominin specimens were buried together in a single debris flow that lithified soon after deposition in a phreatic environment inaccessible to scavengers.


  • Dirks, PHGM
  • Kibii, JM
  • Kuhn, BF
  • Steininger, C
  • Churchill, SE
  • Kramers, JD
  • Pickering, R
  • Farber, DL
  • Meriaux, AS
  • Herries, AIR
  • King, GCP
  • Berger, LR

publication date

  • April 9, 2010