• Adakite-like granitoids of Songkultau: A relic of juvenile Cambrian arc in Kyrgyz Tien Shan

      Konopelko, D; Seltmann, Reimar; Dolgopolova, Alla; Safonova, I; Glorie, S; De Grave, J; Sun, M (Elsevier BV, 2020-09-01)
      The early Paleozoic Terskey Suture zone, located in the southern part of the Northern Tien Shan domain in Kyrgyzstan, comprises tectonic slivers of dismembered ophiolites and associated primitive volcanics and deep-marine sediments. In the Lake Songkul area, early-middle Cambrian pillow basalts are crosscut by the Songkultau intrusion of coarse-grained gneissose quartz diorites and tonalites with geochemical characteristics typical for high-SiO2 adakites (SiO2 ​> ​56 ​wt.%, Al2O3 ​> ​15 ​wt.%, Na2O ​> ​3.5 ​wt.% and high Sr/Y and La/Yb ratios). The Songkultau granitoids have positive initial εNd (+3.8 to +6.4) and εHf (+12.3 to +13.5) values indicating derivation from sources with MORB-like isotopic signature. Volcanic formations, surrounding the Songkultau intrusion, have geochemical affinities varying from ocean floor to island arc series. This rock assemblage is interpreted as a relic of an early-middle Cambrian primitive arc where the adakite-like granitoids were derived from partial melting of young and hot subducted oceanic crust. An age of 505 ​Ma, obtained for the Songkultau intrusion, shows that hot subduction under the Northern Tien Shan continued until middle Cambrian. The primitive arc complexes were obducted onto the Northern Tien Shan domain, where the Andean type continental magmatic arc developed in Cambrian and Ordovician. Formation of the Andean type arc was accompanied by uplift, erosion and deposition of coarse clastic sediments. A depositional age of ca. 470 Ma, obtained for the gravellites in the Lake Songkul area, is in agreement with the timing of deposition for lower Ordovician conglomerates elsewhere in the Northern Tien Shan, and corresponds to the main phase of the Andean type magmatism. The Songkultau adakites in association with surrounding ocean floor and island arc formations constitute a relic of a primitive Cambrian arc and represent a juvenile domain of substantial size identified so far within the predominantly crustal-derived terranes of Tien Shan. On a regional scale this primitive arc can be compared with juvenile Cambrian arcs of Kazakhstan, Gorny Altai and Mongolia.
    • The alteration history of the CY chondrites, investigated through analysis of a new member: Dhofar 1988

      Suttle, Martin; Greshake, A; King, A; Schofield, PF; Tomkins, A; Russell, Sara (Elsevier BV, 2021-02)
      We provide the first detailed analysis of the carbonaceous chondrite Dhofar (Dho) 1988. This meteorite find was recovered in 2011 from the Zufar desert region of Oman and initially classified as a C2 ungrouped chondrite. Dho 1988 is a monomict breccia composed of millimetre-sized clasts, between which large (~50-250µm) intermixed sulphide-Ca-carbonate veins formed. It has high sulphide abundances (~14 vol%), medium-sized chondrules (avg. 530µm, N=33), relatively low chondrule/CAI abundances (<20 area%), a heavy bulk O-isotope composition (δ17O=9.12‰, δ18O=19.46‰) and an aqueously altered and then dehydrated alteration history. These characteristics are consistent with the newly defined Yamato-type (CY) carbonaceous chondrite group, suggesting this meteorite should be reclassified as a CY chondrite. Dho 1988 experienced advanced aqueous alteration (petrologic subtype 1.3 in the scheme of Howard et al., [2015]). Alteration style and extent are similar to the CM chondrite group, with the matrix having been replaced by tochilinite-cronstedtite intergrowths and chondrules progressively pseudomorphed by phyllosilicates, sulphides and in one instance Ca-carbonates. However, departures from CM-like alteration include the replacement of chondrule cores with Al-rich, Na-saponite and upon which Cr-spinel and Mg-ilmenite grains precipitated. These late-stage aqueous alteration features are common among the CY chondrites. Fractures in Dho 1988 that are infilled by phyllosilicates, sulphides and carbonates attest to post-brecciation aqueous alteration. However, whether aqueous alteration was also active prior to brecciation remains unclear. Veins are polymineralic with a layered structure, allowing their relative chronology to be reconstructed: intermixed phyllosilicate-sulphide growth transitioned to sulphide-carbonate deposition. We estimate temperatures during aqueous alteration to have been between 110ºC<T<160ºC, based on the co-formation of Na-saponite and tochilinite. Dho 1988 was later overprinted by thermal metamorphism. Peak temperatures are estimated between 700ºC and 770ºC, based on the thermal decomposition of phyllosilicates (both serpentine and saponite) combined with the survival of calcite. As temperatures rose during metamorphism the thermal decomposition of pyrrhotite produced troilite. Sulphur gas was liberated in this reaction and flowed through the chondrite reacting with magnetite (previously formed during aqueous alteration) to form a second generation of troilite grains. The presence of both troilite and Ni-rich metal in Dho 1988 (and other CY chondrites) demonstrate that conditions were constrained at the iron-troilite buffer.
    • The alteration history of the Jbilet Winselwan CM carbonaceous chondrite: An analog for C-type asteroid sample return

      King, A; Russell, S; Schofield, P; Humphreys-Williams, E; Strekopytov, S (Wiley, 2018-12-13)
      Jbilet Winselwan is one of the largest CM carbonaceous chondrites available for study. Its light, major, and trace elemental compositions are within the range of other CM chondrites. Chondrules are surrounded by dusty rims and set within a matrix of phyllosilicates, oxides, and sulfides. Calcium‐ and aluminum‐rich inclusions (CAIs) are present at ≤1 vol% and at least one contains melilite. Jbilet Winselwan is a breccia containing diverse lithologies that experienced varying degrees of aqueous alteration. In most lithologies, the chondrules and CAIs are partially altered and the metal abundance is low (<1 vol%), consistent with petrologic subtypes 2.7–2.4 on the Rubin et al. (2007) scale. However, chondrules and CAIs in some lithologies are completely altered suggesting more extensive hydration to petrologic subtypes ≤2.3. Following hydration, some lithologies suffered thermal metamorphism at 400–500 °C. Bulk X‐ray diffraction shows that Jbilet Winselwan consists of a highly disordered and/or very fine‐grained phase (73 vol%), which we infer was originally phyllosilicates prior to dehydration during a thermal metamorphic event(s). Some aliquots of Jbilet Winselwan also show significant depletions in volatile elements such as He and Cd. The heating was probably short‐lived and caused by impacts. Jbilet Winselwan samples a mixture of hydrated and dehydrated materials from a primitive water‐rich asteroid. It may therefore be a good analog for the types of materials that will be encountered by the Hayabusa‐2 and OSIRIS‐REx asteroid sample‐return missions.
    • An analysis of pterosaurian biogeography: implications for the evolutionary history and fossil record quality of the first flying vertebrates

      Upchurch, P; Andres, B; Butler, RJ; Barrett, PM (2015-08-18)
      The biogeographical history of pterosaurs has received very little treatment. Here, we present the first quantitative analysis of pterosaurian biogeography based on an event-based parsimony method (Treefitter). This approach was applied to a phylogenetic tree comprising the relationships of 108 in-group pterosaurian taxa, spanning the full range of this clade's stratigraphical and geographical extent. The results indicate that there is no support for the impact of vicariance or coherent dispersal on pterosaurian distributions. However, this group does display greatly elevated levels of sympatry. Although sampling biases and taxonomic problems might have artificially elevated the occurrence of sympatry, we argue that our results probably reflect a genuine biogeographical signal. We propose a novel model to explain pterosaurian distributions: pterosaurs underwent a series of ‘sweep-stakes’ dispersal events (across oceanic barriers in most cases), resulting in the founding of sympatric clusters of taxa. Examination of the spatiotemporal distributions of pterosaurian occurrences indicates that their fossil record is extremely patchy. Thus, while there is likely to be genuine information on pterosaurian diversity and biogeographical patterns in the current data-set, caution is required in its interpretation.
    • The Anatomy of an Alkalic Porphyry Cu-Au System: Geology and Alteration at Northparkes Mines, New South Wales, Australia

      Pacey, A; Wilkinson, JJ; Owens, J; Priest, D; Cooke, DR; Millar, IL (Society of Economic Geologists, 2019-05-01)
      The Late Ordovician-early Silurian (~455–435 Ma) Northparkes system is a group of silica-saturated, alkalic porphyry deposits and prospects that developed within the Macquarie island arc. The system is host to a spectacular and diverse range of rocks and alteration-mineralization textures that facilitate a detailed understanding of its evolution, in particular the nature and controls of porphyry-related propylitic alteration. The first intrusive phase at Northparkes is a pre- to early-mineralization pluton that underlies all the deposits and varies in composition from a biotite quartz monzonite to alkali feldspar granite. Prior to total crystallization, this pluton was intruded by a more primitive quartz monzonite that marks the onset of a fertile fractionation series. Toward its upper levels, the quartz monzonite is porphyritic and locally rich in Cu sulfides. Subsequently, a complex series of synmineralization quartz monzonite porphyries was emplaced. The quartz monzonite porphyry intrusions have a distinct pipe-like morphology and are ubiquitously K-feldspar–altered with a crystal-crowded porphyritic texture. The textures of the quartz monzonite porphyries and common occurrence of porphyry-cemented contact breccias indicate they were forcibly emplaced and of relatively low viscosity. The quartz monzonite porphyries are therefore interpreted as crystal-bearing, silicate melt-aqueous fluid slurries that represent the conduits through which deep-seated magmatic-derived ore fluid was discharged into the shallow crust (1–2 km depth). Each deposit is centered on a multiphase cluster of quartz monzonite porphyry intrusions that drove discrete hydrothermal systems. Initial fluid evolution was similar in all the deposits, with three major alteration facies developed as largely concentric zones around the quartz monzonite porphyry complexes. The innermost zone is host to Cu sulfide ore and dominated by K-feldspar alteration. This transitions outward through a shell of magnetite ± biotite alteration, with pyrite and minor chalcopyrite, to an outer halo of propylitic alteration. Generally, epidote, chlorite, and pyrite are abundant in the most deposit-proximal propylitic zone, with a decrease in the abundance of pyrite, and then epidote, with increasing distance away from deposit centers. Propylitic alteration, particularly within relatively low permeability rocks, is fracture-controlled and a hierarchy of veins is observed. Veins of chlorite-quartz-pyrite ± calcite ± hematite ± epidote ± chalcopyrite (P1) appear to represent the principal fluid conduits. They are surrounded by pervasive and intense alteration halos with a distinct mineralogical zonation from vein-proximal chlorite-sericite (phengite) ± epidote ± pyrite, through hematite-sericite-chlorite ± epidote, ultimately to a vein-distal hematite-albite ± chlorite ± epidote assemblage. These P1 veins are surrounded by regions in which smaller epidote-chlorite ± calcite ± quartz ± pyrite veins (P2) are abundant, again with zoned alteration envelopes: vein-proximal chlorite-sericite (phengite) ± epidote ± pyrite grades out into an epidote-rich zone, which in turn transitions into vein-distal albite-hematite ± chlorite ± epidote. Areas of weakest propylitic alteration, distant from both P1 and P2 veins, are characterized by small epidote-only veinlets (P3) with albite-hematite halos. Mineralogical transitions across the propylitic zone are therefore repeated in the evolution from P1 to P3 veins, as well as in the halos around these veins. It is the overall vein abundance and overlap of associated alteration halos that controls the intensity and appearance of propylitic alteration in most rocks. Such scale invariance and spatial relationships strongly suggest the transition from P1 to P3 veins reflects a broadly decreasing outward flux of (magmatic-derived?) fluid that passed through the fracture network and progressively reacted with country rocks. Further support for this hypothesis comes from crosscutting relationships and Rb-Sr dating of epidote (returning an age of 450 ± 11 Ma), which demonstrate the bulk of propylitic alteration was coeval with mineralization and potassic alteration. Late-stage fluid evolution at each deposit was unique. Much of the E48 orebody, and locally the GRP314 deposit, was overprinted by texturally destructive, white sericite-albite-quartz-alunite ± chlorite alteration. In the E26 deposit and in regions of the GRP314 deposit a series of quartz-anhydrite ± pyrite ± Cu sulfide veins with distinctive, vein-proximal, sericite-dominant alteration halos cuts the primary, deposit-concentric alteration facies. The vein-distal mineralogy of these alteration halos is controlled by their distance from deposit centers, changing from K-feldspar ± biotite in deposit-proximal veins to chlorite ± epidote-albite in depositdistal veins. Late-mineralization quartz monzonite porphyries at E26 and GRP314 also appear to be related to the generation of anhydrite-quartz ± sphalerite veins and a set of quartz-calcite-pyrite-sphalerite ± chalcopyrite ± galena veins. Postmineralization magmatic activity produced relatively primitive and barren monzonite porphyries and younger alkali basalt dikes.
    • Anatomy of Rhinochelys pulchriceps (Protostegidae) and marine adaptation during the early evolution of chelonioids

      Evers, SW; Benson, RBJ; Barrett, PM (PeerJ Inc., 2019-05-01)
      Knowledge of the early evolution of sea turtles (Chelonioidea) has been limited by conflicting phylogenetic hypotheses resulting from sparse taxon sampling and a superficial understanding of the morphology of key taxa. This limits our understanding of evolutionary adaptation to marine life in turtles, and in amniotes more broadly. One problematic group are the protostegids, Early–Late Cretaceous marine turtles that have been hypothesised to be either stem-cryptodires, stem-chelonioids, or crown-chelonioids. Different phylogenetic hypotheses for protostegids suggest different answers to key questions, including (1) the number of transitions to marine life in turtles, (2) the age of the chelonioid crown-group, and (3) patterns of skeletal evolution during marine adaptation. We present a detailed anatomical study of one of the earliest protostegids, Rhinochelys pulchriceps from the early Late Cretaceous of Europe, using high-resolution mCT. We synonymise all previously named European species and document the variation seen among them. A phylogeny of turtles with increased chelonioid taxon sampling and revised postcranial characters is provided, recovering protostegids as stem-chelonioids. Our results imply a mid Early Cretaceous origin of total-group chelonioids and an early Late Cretaceous age for crown-chelonioids, which may inform molecular clock analyses in future. Specialisations of the chelonioid flipper evolved in a stepwise-fashion, with innovations clustered into pulses at the origin of total-group chelonioids, and subsequently among dermochelyids, crown-cheloniids, and gigantic protostegids from the Late Cretaceous.
    • Ancient hydrothermal seafloor deposits in Eridania basin on Mars

      Michalski, JR; Dobrea, EZN; Niles, PB; Cuadros, J (2017-07-10)
    • Ancient life and moving fluids

      Gibson, Brandt M; Furbish, David J; Rahman, Imran; Schmeeckle, Mark W; Laflamme, Marc; Darroch, Simon AF (Wiley, 2021-02)
      Over 3.7 billion years of Earth history, life has evolved complex adaptations to help navigate and interact with the fluid environment. Consequently, fluid dynamics has become a powerful tool for studying ancient fossils, providing insights into the palaeobiology and palaeoecology of extinct organisms from across the tree of life. In recent years, this approach has been extended to the Ediacara biota, an enigmatic assemblage of Neoproterozoic soft-bodied organisms that represent the first major radiation of macroscopic eukaryotes. Reconstructing the ways in which Ediacaran organisms interacted with the fluids provides new insights into how these organisms fed, moved, and interacted within communities. Here, we provide an in-depth review of fluid physics aimed at palaeobiologists, in which we dispel misconceptions related to the Reynolds number and associated flow conditions, and specify the governing equations of fluid dynamics. We then review recent advances in Ediacaran palaeobiology resulting from the application of computational fluid dynamics (CFD). We provide a worked example and account of best practice in CFD analyses of fossils, including the first large eddy simulation (LES) experiment performed on extinct organisms. Lastly, we identify key questions, barriers, and emerging techniques in fluid dynamics, which will not only allow us to understand the earliest animal ecosystems better, but will also help to develop new palaeobiological tools for studying ancient life.
    • The application of deep eutectic solvent ionic liquids for environmentally-friendly dissolution and recovery of precious metals

      Jenkin, GRT; Al-Bassam, AZM; Harris, RC; Abbott, AP; Smith, DJ; Holwell, DA; Chapman, RJ; Stanley, Christopher (2016-03)
    • Aquatic Habits and Niche Partitioning in the Extraordinarily Long-Necked Triassic Reptile Tanystropheus

      Spiekman, Stephan NF; Neenan, James M; Fraser, Nicholas C; Fernandez, Vincent; Rieppel, Olivier; Nosotti, Stefania; Scheyer, Torsten M (Elsevier BV, 2020-08-06)
      Tanystropheus longobardicus is one of the most remarkable and iconic Triassic reptiles. Mainly known from the Middle Triassic conservation Lagerstätte of Monte San Giorgio on the Swiss-Italian border, it is characterized by an extraordinarily long and stiffened neck that is almost three times the length of the trunk, despite being composed of only 13 hyper-elongate cervical vertebrae [1-8]. Its paleobiology remains contentious, with both aquatic and terrestrial lifestyles having been proposed [1, 9-12]. Among the Tanystropheus specimens, a small morphotype bearing tricuspid teeth and a large morphotype bearing single-cusped teeth can be recognized, historically considered as juveniles and adults of the same species [4]. Using high-resolution synchrotron radiation microtomography (SRμCT), we three-dimensionally reconstruct a virtually complete but disarticulated skull of the large morphotype, including its endocast and inner ear, to reveal its morphology for the first time. The skull is specialized toward hunting in an aquatic environment, indicated by the placement of the nares on the top of the snout and a "fish-trap"-type dentition. The SRμCT data and limb bone paleohistology reveal that the large morphotype represents a separate species (Tanystropheus hydroides sp. nov.). Skeletochronology of the small morphotype specimens indicates that they are skeletally mature despite their small size, thus representing adult individuals of Tanystropheus longobardicus. The co-occurrence of these two species of disparate size ranges and dentitions provides strong evidence for niche partitioning, highlighting the surprising versatility of the Tanystropheus bauplan and the complexity of Middle Triassic nearshore ecosystems.
    • Aram Dorsum: An Extensive Mid‐Noachian Age Fluvial Depositional System in Arabia Terra, Mars

      Balme, MR; Gupta, S; Davis, Joel; Fawdon, P; M. Grindrod, P; Bridges, JC; Sefton‐Nash, E; Williams, RME (American Geophysical Union (AGU), 2020-04-15)
      A major debate in Mars science is the nature of the early Mars climate, and the availability ofprecipitation and runoff. Observations of relict erosional valley networks have been proposed as evidencefor extensive surface runoff around the Noachian‐Hesperian boundary. However, these valley networks onlyprovide a time‐integrated record of landscape evolution, and thus, the timing, relative timescales andintensity of aqueous activity required to erode the valleys remain unknown. Here, we investigate an ancientfluvial sedimentary system in western Arabia Terra, now preserved in positive relief. This ridge, “AramDorsum,” is flat‐topped, branching, ~85 km long, and particularly well preserved. We show that AramDorsum was an aggradational alluvial system and that the existing ridge was once a large river channel beltset in extensive flood plains, many of which are still preserved. Smaller, palaeochannel belts feed themain system; their setting and network pattern suggest a distributed source of water. The alluvial successionis up to 60 m thick, suggesting a formation time of 105to 107years by analogy to Earth. Our observationsare consistent with Aram Dorsum having formed by long‐lived flows of water, sourced both locally, andregionally as part of a wider alluvial system in Arabia Terra. This suggests frequent or seasonal precipitationas the source of water. Correlating our observations with previous regional‐scale mapping shows thatAram Dorsum formed in the mid‐Noachian. Aram Dorsum is one of the oldest fluvial systems described onMars and indicates climatic conditions that sustained surface river flows on early Mars.
    • Are coral reefs victims of their own past success?

      Renema, W; Pandolfi, JM; Kiessling, W; Bosellini, FR; Klaus, JS; Korpanty, C; Rosen, BR; Santodomingo, N; Wallace, CC; Webster, JM; et al. (2016-04-22)
    • Assessing Thallium Elemental Systematics and Isotope Ratio Variations in Porphyry Ore Systems: A Case Study of the Bingham Canyon District

      Fitzpayne, A; Prytulak, J; Wilkinson, JJ; Cooke, DR; Baker, MJ; Wilkinson, CC (MDPI AG, 2018-11-26)
      The Bingham Canyon porphyry deposit is one of the world’s largest Cu-Mo-Au resources. Elevated concentrations of thallium (Tl) compared to average continental crust have been found in some brecciated and igneous samples in this area, which likely result from mobilization of Tl by relatively low temperature hydrothermal fluids. The Tl-enrichment at Bingham Canyon therefore provides an opportunity to investigate if Tl isotope ratios reflect hydrothermal enrichment and whether there are systematic Tl isotope fractionations that could provide an exploration tool. We present a reconnaissance study of nineteen samples spanning a range of lithologies from the Bingham district which were analysed for their Tl content and Tl isotope ratios, reported as parts per ten thousand (ε205Tl) relative to the NIST SRM997 international standard. The range of ε205Tl reported in this study (−16.4 to +7.2) is the largest observed in a hydrothermal ore deposit to date. Unbrecciated samples collected relatively proximal to the Bingham Canyon porphyry system have ε205Tl of −4.2 to +0.9, similar to observations in a previous study of porphyry deposits. This relatively narrow range suggests that high-temperature (>300 °C) hydrothermal alteration does not result in significant Tl isotope fractionation. However, two samples ~3–4 km away from Bingham Canyon have higher ε205Tl values (+1.3 and +7.2), and samples from more distal (~7 km) disseminated gold deposits at Melco and Barneys Canyon display an even wider range in ε205Tl (−16.4 to +6.0). The observation of large positive and negative excursions in ε205Tl relative to the mantle value (ε205Tl = −2.0 ± 1.0) contrasts with previous investigations of hydrothermal systems. Samples displaying the most extreme positive and negative ε205Tl values also contain elevated concentrations of Tl-Sb-As. Furthermore, with the exception of one sample, all of the Tl isotopic anomalies occur in hydrothermal breccia samples. This suggests that ε205Tl excursions are most extreme during the migration of low-temperature hydrothermal fluids potentially related to sediment-hosted gold mineralization. Future investigation to determine the host phase(s) for Tl in breccias displaying both chalcophile element enrichment and ε205Tl excursions can potentially provide new information about hydrothermal fluid composition and could be used to locate sites for future porphyry exploration.
    • The atmospheric entry of fine-grained micrometeorites: The role of volatile gases in heating and fragmentation

      Suttle, Martin; Genge, MJ; Folco, L; Van Ginneken, M; Lin, Q; Russell, SS; Najorka, J (Wiley, 2019-03)
      The early stages of atmospheric entry are investigated in four large (250–950 lm) unmelted micrometeorites (three fine-grained and one composite), derived from the Transantarctic Mountain micrometeorite collection. These particles have abundant, interconnected, secondary pore spaces which form branching channels and show evidence of enhanced heating along their channel walls. Additionally, a micrometeorite with a doublewalled igneous rim is described, suggesting that some particles undergo volume expansion during entry. This study provides new textural data which links together entry heating processes known to operate inside micrometeoroids, thereby generating a more comprehensive model of their petrographic evolution. Initially, flash heated micrometeorites develop a melt layer on their exterior; this igneous rim migrates inwards. Meanwhile, the particle core is heated by the decomposition of low-temperature phases and by volatile gas release. Where the igneous rim acts as a seal, gas pressures rise, resulting in the formation of interconnected voids and higher particle porosities. Eventually, the igneous rim is breached and gas exchange with the atmosphere occurs. This mechanism replaces inefficient conductive rim-to-core thermal gradients with more efficient particle-wide heating, driven by convective gas flow. Interconnected voids also increase the likelihood of particle fragmentation during entry and, may therefore explain the rarity of large fine-grained micrometeorites among collections.
    • 'Ava’: a Beaker-associated woman from a cist at Achavanich, Highland, and the story of her (re-) discovery and subsequent study

      Hoole, M; Sheridan, JA; Boyle, A; Booth, T; Brace, S; Diekmann, Y; Olalde, I; Thomas, M; Barnes, I; Evans, J; et al. (Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 2018-11-21)
      This contribution describes the discovery and subsequent investigation of a cist in a rock-cut pit at Achavanich, Highland. Discovered and excavated in 1987, the cist was found to contain the tightly contracted skeletal remains of a young woman, accompanied by a Beaker, three flint artefacts and a cattle scapula. Initial post excavation work established a date for the skeleton together with details of her age and sex, and preliminary pollen analysis of sediments attaching to the Beaker was undertaken. The findings were never fully published and, upon the death of the excavator, Robert Gourlay, the documentary archive was left in the Highland Council Archaeology Unit. Fresh research in 2014–17, initiated and co-ordinated by the first-named author and funded by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland with assistance from National Museums Scotland, the Natural History Museum and Harvard Medical School, has produced a significant amount of new information on the individual and on some of the items with which she was buried. This new information includes two further radiocarbon dates, a more detailed osteological report, isotopic information pertaining to the place where she had been raised and to her diet, histological information on the decomposition of her body, and genetic information that sheds light on her ancestry, her hair, eye and skin colour and her intolerance of lactose. (This is the first time that an ancient DNA report has been published in the Proceedings.) Moreover, a facial reconstruction adds virtual flesh to her bones. The significance of this discovery within the Chalcolithic to Early Bronze Age of this part of Scotland is discussed, along with the many and innovative ways in which information on this individual, dubbed ‘Ava’, has been disseminated around the world.
    • Aveline's Hole: An Unexpected Twist in the Tale

      Schulting, R; Booth, T; Brace, Selina; Diekmann, Y; Thomas, M; Barnes, I; Meiklejohn, C; Babb, J; Budd, C; Charlton, Sophy; et al. (University of Bristol Spelaeological Society, 2019-06-20)
      Aveline's Hole is the largest known Early Mesolithic cemetery in Britain, previously thought to have no evidence for subsequent burial activity. Thus, it came as some surprise when the results of a recent ancient human DNA study found that, of four individuals from the site yielding genomic data, two showed high levels of ancestry from Early Neolithic Aegean farmers. Radiocarbon dating confirmed that these two individuals were indeed British Early Neolithic in date, while the other two had the expected 'Western Hunter-Gatherer' ancestry genomic signatures, with the two groups separated in time by nearly five millennia. Moreover, the two Neolithic samples were both crania, while the two Mesolithic samples were long bones. Given the absence of Neolithic dates in the previous sizeable dating programme combined with the difficult history of the collection, i.e., the WWII bombing of its Bristol repository, this raised the question of whether the crania might in fact be from another site. As we show in this paper, a very strong case can be made that the crania do in fact originate from Aveline's Hole. Additional radiocarbon dating (14 in total, including the above mentioned four) suggests that about half the cranial elements from the site fall within the Early Neolithic, though there is still no evidence for the deposition of post-cranial remains at this time, nor is there any burial evidence in the long intervening period between the Early Mesolithic and the Early Neolithic. Intriguingly, craniometric analyses of legacy data including three crania lost in the bombing suggest that one, Aveline's Hole 'A', may be Upper Palaeolithic in date. As part of this re-investigation of the human remains from the site, we present new stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses that differ significantly from those originally reported for the Early Mesolithic, with the new results more in keeping with other isotopic data for this period. We also present new stable carbon and nitrogen isotope results on human remains from the nearby Early Mesolithic sites of Badger Hole and Greylake, and report new Early Mesolithic radiocarbon dates and isotopic data from Cannington Park Quarry. Clear isotopic differences between the Early Mesolithic and the Neolithic remains can be seen, but these are argued to relate primarily to shifts in the underlying ecological baselines, rather than to differences in types of foods consumed (with the caveat that terrestrial wild and domesticated foods will be isotopically similar). The genetic data are summarised, giving evidence not only of the ancestry of Mesolithic and Neolithic individuals from Aveline's Hole, but also suggesting something of their physical appearance. The degree of population replacement now indicated by ancient DNA suggests that there was a substantial migration of farmers into Britain at the start of the Neolithic. This new information demonstrates the archaeological importance of Aveline's Hole for both the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods.
    • Biesiespoort revisited: a case study on the relationship between tetrapod assemblage zones and Beaufort lithostratigraphy south of Victoria West

      Day, Michael Oliver; Rubidge, Bruce; Choiniere, J (University of the Witwatersrand Johannesburg, 2018-12-01)
      The relationship between the tetrapod assemblage zones of the South African Karoo Basin and the lithostratigraphic divisions of the Beaufort Group is well-established, and provides an independent means of dating fossil occurrences. However, this relationship may not be consistent across the basin; a discrepancy exists between the historical tetrapod assemblages in the vicinity of Victoria West, Northern Cape Province, and the expected tetrapod assemblage zones based on mapped geology. In order to examine this disconnect, we collected fossils at two localities close to Biesiespoort railway station, a locality that was visited on a number of occasions by Robert Broom. Our fossil samples support the biostratigraphic determinations of Broom and thus confirm that the stratigraphic extent of the biozones at these localities differs from their type areas further south. The reasons for this are unclear but could be related to the northward younging of the lithological units, implying complex depositional processes, or result from difficulties in mapping. Nevertheless, caution should be exercised when using mapped geology near Victoria West as a guide to the age of fossils found there.
    • Biesiespoort revisited: a case study on the relationship between tetrapod assemblage zones and Beaufort lithostratigraphy south of Victoria West

      Day, M; Rubidge, BS (University of the Witwatersrand Johannesburg, 2018-12)
      The relationship between the tetrapod assemblage zones of the South African Karoo Basin and the lithostratigraphic divisions of the Beaufort Group is well-established, and provides an independent means of dating fossil occurrences. However, this relationship may not be consistent across the basin; a discrepancy exists between the historical tetrapod assemblages in the vicinity of Victoria West, Northern Cape Province, and the expected tetrapod assemblage zones based on mapped geology. In order to examine this disconnect, we collected fossils at two localities close to Biesiespoort railway station, a locality that was visited on a number of occasions by Robert Broom. Our fossil samples support the biostratigraphic determinations of Broom and thus confirm that the stratigraphic extent of the biozones at these localities differs from their type areas further south. The reasons for this are unclear but could be related to the northward younging of the lithological units, implying complex depositional processes, or result from difficulties in mapping. Nevertheless, caution should be exercised when using mapped geology near Victoria West as a guide to the age of fossils found there.