Institute of Archaeology


Stefania Cucuteanu

The Palaeoecology of Bovidae Fauna at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania: A Complete Taxonomic Assessment of Beds I-IV and the Abiotic and Biotic Interactions in Plio-Pleistocene Faunal Communities


Email: stefania.cucuteanu.18@ucl.ac.uk

Section: Archaeological Sciences



research focuses on the palaeoecology of family Bovidae at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. I aim to elucidate the scope of biotic and abiotic influences on evolutionary patterns in space and time, providing a long-term view of evolution at Olduvai that address questions concerning drivers of large mammal extinctions and early hominin emergence. Representing the most abundant and diverse family of mammals in Africa, around the world and in East African palaeoanthropological assemblages, Bovidae will be used as a bio-chronological marker to evaluate trends in speciation and extinction, increased body size and arid-adapted bovids.

Employing faunal analytical methods and taphonomic analysis, I will compile a comprehensive taxonomic history of Bovidae at Olduvai Gorge, aggregating past disparate faunal collections with present data. Through building this archive, I will investigate the response of bovid faunal communities to biotic interactions of predation and abiotic changes in environment during the Oldowan/Acheulean transition. Abiotic drivers of global and regional climate events can indicate long-term impact on faunal communities observed through the distribution and variation of local habitats and taxa abundance and diversity based on patterns of regional environmental stability. The ecological consequences observed through the food web may further identify changes in biotic competition affecting the abundance, diversity, and interactions in faunal communities including anthropogenic drivers of large mammal extinction and smaller species extinction from ensuing habitat loss.


    • BA, Archaeology, The George Washington University, 2007
    • MA, Archaeology, UCL, 2008

    Assefa, Zelalem and Cucuteanu, Stefania, "Dentitions of East Africa Carnivore Digital Archive." 2007. http://humanorigins.si.edu/research/digital-archive-ungulate-and-carnivore-dentition