Gladysvale: Fossils, strata and GIS analysis

R. Lacruz, P. Ungar, P. J. Hancox, J. S. Brink, L. R. Berger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


THE GLADYSVALE CAVE SYSTEM IS A SERIES of fossiliferous deposits located in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, Gauteng, South Africa. Recent excavations at Gladysvale have used a geographic information system (GIS)-based approach to record locations of individual fossils as they are discovered. This method allows precise mapping of specimens, and subsequent analysis of their spatial context. Here we describe the geological context and recent finds in the external deposits at Gladysvale, and a new approach to their analysis. Examples showing spatial distributions of the remains of different bovid tribes and carnivore-damaged bones versus bones gnawed by porcupines are presented. A lack of spatial differentiation of data types may indicate one of two possible scenarios; first, either there are no differences in environment and taphonomic agents of accumulation, or, more likely, there was movement of specimens within the decalcified external deposits at the site. This exercise demonstrates that fossil mapping by theodolite and GIS are powerful tools in palaeoanthropological field research and mapping.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-285
Number of pages3
JournalSouth African Journal of Science
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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