Human Evolution @ UCL


Indian Leptobos fossils may show signs of cut marks made by hominins 2.6 million years ago

3 February 2016

The Indo-French research program 'Siwaliks' has been surveying the Late Pliocene Formation of the Chandigarh anticline (NW India) since 2008.

Two cheetahs of Sivapanthera linxiaensis are hunting a bovid of Leptobos brevicornis (Illustrated by Li Rongshan) These sub-Himalayan floodplain deposits are known for their Tertiary-Quaternary transitional fauna, especially those from the Quranwala zone in the Masol Formation, whose basal member is approximately 130 meters below the Gauss/Matuyama paleomagnetic reversal (2.588 Ma).

About 1500 fossils have been collected in the inlier of Masol, most often on recently eroded outcrops, and sometimes in association with stone tools (choppers, flakes). Many bones were covered by a variety of marks (animal, bioerosion and tectonics) and among these traces a few were intentional cut marks. Different methods have been applied in Paris (France) to describe their topography on a micron scale, using the 3D Digital Video Microscope Hirox, and completed with binocular microscopy at the Center for Research and Restoration of Museums of France (C2RMF), and X-ray microtomography with the AST-RX platform, at the National Museum of Natural History, Paris.

Experiments with quartzite cobbles collected near the fossils were carried out in India and in France. The mineralization of the traces is identical to the bone tissue, and comparison with our experimental cut marks confirms that the profiles are typical of the sharp edge of a flake or cobble in quartzite; their size and spatial organization testify to energetic and intentional gestures from an agile wrist acting with precision, and to a good knowledge of the bovid anatomy.

Intentional cut marks on bovid from the Quranwala zone, 2.6 Ma, Siwalik Frontal Range, northwestern India


Society of Archaeological and Anthropological Research, Chandigarh, India): Mukesh Singh, Surinder Pal, Amandeep Kaur, Vipnesh Bhardwar

Institute of Human Palaeontology, Paris): Anne Malesse, Anne-Marie Moigne, Salah Abdessadok, Cecile Sao, Claire Gaillard, Baldev Karir

University of Paris XI: Julien Gargani, Alina Tudryn 

Louvre Palace, Paris: Thomas Callegaro

National Museum of Natural history, Paris: Miguel Sanz

Journal: Comptes Rendus Palevol