Gorongosa by the sea: First Miocene fossil sites from the Urema Rift, central Mozambique, and their coastal paleoenvironmental and paleoecological contexts

Journal article


Publication Details

Author(s): Habermann J, Alberti M, Aldeias V, Alemseged Z, Archer W, Bamford M, Biro D, Braun DR, Capelli C, Cunha E, Da Silva MF, Luedecke T, Madiquida H, Martinez FI, Mathe J, Negash E, Paulo LM, Pinto M, Stalmans M, Regala FT, Wynn JG, Bobe R, Carvalho S
Journal: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Publication year: 2019
Volume: 514
Pages range: 723-738
ISSN: 0031-0182


Abstract

The East African Rift System (EARS) has played a central role in our understanding of human origins and vertebrate evolution in the late Cenozoic of Africa. However, the distribution of fossil sites along the rift is highly biased towards its northern extent, and the types of paleoenvironments are primarily restricted to fluvial and lacustrine settings. Here we report the discovery of the first fossil sites from the Urema Rift at Gorongosa National Park (central Mozambique) at the southern end of the EARS, and reconstruct environmental contexts of the fossils. In situ and surface fossils from the lower member of the Mazamba Formation, estimated to be of Miocene age, comprise mammals, reptiles, fishes, invertebrates, palms, and dicot trees. Fossil and geological evidence indicates a coastal-plain paleoenvironmental mosaic of riverine forest/woodland and estuarine habitats that represent the first coastal biomes identified in the Neogene EARS context. Receiving continental sediment from source terranes west of today's Urema Graben, estuarine sequences accumulated prior to rifting as compound incised-valley fills on a low-gradient coastal plain following transgression. Modern environmental analogues are extremely productive habitats for marine and terrestrial fauna, including primates. Thus, our discoveries raise the possibility that the Miocene coastal landscapes of Gorongosa were ecologically-favorable habitats for primates, providing relatively stable maritime climate and ecosystem conditions, year-round freshwater availability, and food both from terrestrial and marine sources. The emerging fossil record from Gorongosa is beginning to fill an important gap in the paleobiogeography of Africa as no fossil sites of Neogene age have previously been reported from the southernmost part of the EARS. Furthermore, this unique window into past continental-margin ecosystems of central Mozambique may allow us to test key paleobiogeographic hypotheses during critical periods of primate evolution.


FAU Authors / FAU Editors

Habermann, Jörg
Lehrstuhl für Geologie (Exogene Dynamik)


External institutions with authors

Associação de Estudos Subterrâneos e Defesado Ambiente (AESDA)
Cardiff University
Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Eduardo Mondlane University / Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM)
George Washington University (GWU)
Gorongosa National Park
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology / Max-Planck-Institut für evolutionäre Anthropologie
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Universidade de Coimbra
University of Algarve / Universidade do Algarve
University of Chicago
University of Oxford
University of the Witwatersrand (WITS)


How to cite

APA:
Habermann, J., Alberti, M., Aldeias, V., Alemseged, Z., Archer, W., Bamford, M.,... Carvalho, S. (2019). Gorongosa by the sea: First Miocene fossil sites from the Urema Rift, central Mozambique, and their coastal paleoenvironmental and paleoecological contexts. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 514, 723-738. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2018.09.032

MLA:
Habermann, Jörg, et al. "Gorongosa by the sea: First Miocene fossil sites from the Urema Rift, central Mozambique, and their coastal paleoenvironmental and paleoecological contexts." Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 514 (2019): 723-738.

BibTeX: 

Last updated on 2019-01-08 at 07:38