P. 1
The Record of Pleistocene Megafaunal Extinction at Taima-taima, Northern Venezuela

The Record of Pleistocene Megafaunal Extinction at Taima-taima, Northern Venezuela

|Views: 41|Likes:
Published by Veronica Estaba

More info:

Published by: Veronica Estaba on Mar 15, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less






A Prehistoric Repolutjgn

Ii .. rl·.J £-,.; ... / ,~~.-,-:o- ;( .. v ~{'''-'

I '

, .. ~ ,,'

"he Record 01 Ple~5.OCene "e.alaunal ExCjncCion at "a~ma.Caima, "or.hern Venezuela


THE OOA$TAL ZOt-:E of north-central Venemela lada)' is a hot. dry expanse of plains .mel lowlands CO\·~ "",~th ope:T'l SCT'Ub and cacti, the most notable fauna. being herds or variccfcred goats U1troduc~ u.ith the Sp.ani.Yi. conquest. In late Pleistocene times however, the zone "., .. iIS populated ib'.l' mastodoms, giant ground sloth, glrpwdonts. horses. and eerlv man.

Archaeological and paleontological research on the coastal p-tai.'1 of northern \-'1"11- eeuela has been conducted b.r J. M. Cruxent since the early 19505: tCn,.o.;ent ant! R0USI,: 1956). Abundant megafauna! remains of hue Pleistocene <ilge have been recovered Iron. clayey sand deposits at two waterhole sues. Muaco (Royo y Gom~% 1!:t51J. Cree.eo' 1%]) IIlId T4l.rmHJ_irn~ (Cru:J[~nt 1967, Bryan e: al. !9/P.. Dctnenrus and Gruhn f1 d l: and from tile gra ..... els in an ~DyO 31 Cucuruchu Kf'I.1XlI!l1t 1.9'70). AIIlhret: of these sue: are Jocaled close 10 the presern coastline and within several kilometers. of each other. Lr, a hill~' region about 10 to 15 km east of the C'I~' of (oro (fig, 5, It The most de~t'.j 5rratigra~hl:: work was carried 01,lt at Taima-taima in 1975 (Brvan et aJ 1978. Ochsena.s and Gruhn n. d.I,

The SHe of Taima-taima is nov .. a waterhole in ;3 small basin at an etC'\'ati{'lO o: approximatel)" 23 meters above sea le ... -ef. The waterhole cI.r:at.'1s b ... me3I15 at a small s.hallvl,lo." stream Vr,'hic.h crosses severallow bedrock shelves en I~~ wav to me sea, on"" about haJj a Irnom~ter 1.0 the north. The waterhole is formed b~' all cutcropprng '.if a ~'lJt·. aquiferous Miocene marine sandstone, through which the artesian water, derived 'rom the base of the San Luis Mountains about 10 krn to the south, seeps The archal"ol't~.:a: and paleontological evidence Lflwcates tha1 the waterbote was m existence in late Ph::::-tocene times and served as an attracucn for megafauna and man.

Stratigraphy and Paleoenvironments

Exeavaiiens {or four seasons b~' Cruxem O\"t"T an ares of 15(' square meter's before .l~76 e),"P~s.t"d man. bo~es, but un1on.un.a.le~r most were destrovec br ,"~CnJ: be~oQ_rc IdenCJ.::.aUOI"I ano analysis. AJLl)m.lgn tncre timited in area ~gO square- meters), the l'!!, b. tXC"3"ifU(':1S prC":lde-o detailed evidence ...... hich made possible a reur-ement (if th~ ~'.ratl~aphJC .d:J5rnblltl(lJ1 of the me,t.afa~a) rcm~J'l~. Three separate fauna' a.ssemb!i!~t"~ ... ere de-lermlflt:d a.:ict correlatrd with mater s:ra:.Jgr2:pr..J: horuoes (fig. 5 =.

Yhe Record of Pleistocene Mesafaunal Extinction at Y~ma.taima. Northern

Venezuela .'




THE COASTAL ZONE of north-central Venezuela today is • not. dry expanse of plains and lowlands covered with open scrub and cacti. the most notable fauna being herd, of Varicolored goats introduced ..... -ith the Spanish conquest. In hue Pleistocene urnes, howe-ver, the zone was populated by mastodoms, giant ground sloth. glyptodoms.

horses. and earl)' man. .

Archaeological and paleontological research on the coastal plain of northern Verezueta has been conducted by J. M. Cruxem since the early 19505 (Cruxem and Rouse 1956). Abundant megafauna! remains of lale Pleistocene age have been reco v ered from clayey sand deposits at two waterhole sites, Muaco (Royc y Cornel 1960, Cruxcni 1961) and Tairna-tairna (Cruxent 1967. Bryan et at 1978. Ochsenius and Gruhn n.d.): and from the gravels in .in arroyo at Cucuruchu (Cruxen: 1970) All three of these '.11,', are located close 10 the 'present coastline and wittUn several kilometers of each other. In a hili)' region about 1010 15 km east of the cit)' of Coro (fig. 5.l). The rnost detailed stratigraphic work was earned out at Tairna-tairna in 1976 (Bryan et al. 1978. Ochsemus

and Gruhn n. d. ), .

The site of Tairna-tairna is now 3 waterhole in a small basin at an elevation of approximately'23 meters above sea- level. The waterhole d r ains t.y means of a small shallow stream which crosses several low bedrock shelves on its way to the sea, only about hali a kilometer to the north The waterhole is formed by an outcropping of a son. aquiferousMiocene marine sandstone. through w'hich the artesian water, derived from the bas~'of the San Luis Mountains about 10 km to the south, seeps. The archaeolcgxal and paleontolog-ral evidence indicates that the water le was in existence in late Pteiswcen~ rimes ami served as an attraction for megafauna d man.


Siratigraphy and Paleoenviron

Excavations for four seasons by Cruxeni over an area of 150 square meterbefore 1~76 exposed many bones. bUI unfortunately most were destroyed by "and"l, before identification and analysis, Although more limited in area (80 square meters). lh.· 1976 excavations provided detailed evidence which made possible a refinement of th" straticraohic distribution of tlJe rnegaiaunal remains. Three separate f,.nal assembla~d '.'~r" ·d.;"ncuned and correlated with major stratigraphic horizons (fig 5.2)_


LOCalQr Mao



Figure 5.1. Map ot north-clntlal Venezuela ~owm9 locauoo oj Talma-tSlma ano EI Jooo type slle


NOMr'l-$Ou'th Prl;l!lIe (Ea5.t Walll ~(ju~'e~ 216 217

Flgu.re 5.2... Description of stfatigrapl:'!k ie~lules

ta. ConvohJlM datil: grey ctaye-y s.and lb. Ltghl grey sand.

lc Brownish ,gre)" sand.

Jo While sand.

reo Yallo·...,s.h 100 r&O<:hsh ttrO\o'o'n saild.

u R&d sane

19 Oa,1o;, rOO sand

B Bone

C~ CObDre pa v emenl E\n;j M~ne sand NlV Masticated ';'sgf!'tal,iol'1

Unit II. t.arrunateo ssnc

Ita. "'ell~wi$h reo $-and W1~ red\Jc~u:m SlIMK s. eccasionet cecoes

lie. Bm~ red sand (Iate-nlel

lid. 'VolloW1Sh wnne sana ...,th O);hti;'!.~lon 'weakS

TIH..' lloor of the warerhole in the excavated area con~istcd or waterwor». lunvstone cobbles and pebble, tightly impacted in a pavement over we compact M,oc{'n. sand, The cobbles and pebbles were all derived from the same local Iormauon. a Iossihlerous Miocene limestone which outcrops on the sides of the basin: app-arently blocks and fragments of this limestone were lei down by erosion onto the D"or 01 lhe basin and became impacted and rounded I1l the Water hole :\ umeraus broken and w m bones of megafauna were exposed embedded in tJ;js cobble pal'emen!. forming the fir;! faunal horizon.


Overlying the cobble pavement was a deposit of grev clayer sand approximately 0.75-10 m in thickness. This zone, designated Unit l. displayed local coovoluting and particle-sorting due to the upward seepage of water. Its upper surface, above the present water table. ,",,7IS oxidized. but the lower third of theo deposit was still saturated at the time of excavation. Organic material as well as bone was preserved by the continuously waterlogged condition of the lower pari of Unit I. A straugraphic series of fifteen radiocarbon dates on Unit I range between 12.580 " J50 l'T B.P. and )3,390 -, 130 IT B.P. (BITan and Cruhn n.d.) In 1976 the butchered remains of a juvenile rnastodont in association with an EI Iobo proiectile point and a uwed iasper flake were exposed near the base of Unit I, and four radiocarbon dates. on a mass of sheare-d tv.igs. believed to be the stomach contents of til. mastoeont indicate a dale of 1,1000 years ago for the kill (Brvan et al, 1978. Och se nius and Gruhn n.d.). Bones ard teeth of oilier megafauna forming the SoCcond taonal hcrizon were also re .. xovered from the gre-y d.3~-f'~ sand of Unit I.

The lOP of Unit I is marked by a prominent disconi'onni,y indicating an erosional interval, On the surface of the disconformiry appeared remnants ala paleosol. .ilh a thin line 01 pebbles and man,' weather .. d bone fragments. The (aunal assemblage on the Unit lill disconfcrrnity, farming the third faunal horizon, is the last evidence of megafauna at Taima-taima, nus horizon is nat direclly dated, although Bryon and Gruhn (n.d.l spe-culate wt an anomalous date of 11,860 :!: L30 yr B,P. (T\~C·65S) obtained from wood recovered in previous excavations may actu.ally be derived from a waterlogged root originating from a tree which grew on til. Unit IIIl land surface. The red sands of the overlying Unit II are sterile of organic remains and undated, but an ol'erll'i.~g organic black clay dep<>ii' (Unit llJ) has yielded six stratigraphically consistern radiocarbon dates ranging from 10,290 ± 90 yr B.P. to 9650 ± 80 rr B.P. Tbe final stratigraphic unit at Taima-taima. • deposit of coUU\ia1 brown sand (Unit IV), is sterile of organic remains and is undatable.

Direct evidence for Ole paleoenvironment at different horizons in the Tairna-taima slr"2tigIdphic sequence is sparse. Plant remains recovere-d from the lower pan of th-!:" grev cla\'e,. sand of Unit I include see cis of Porrulacaceae [J'omllcca aU-'Geea and P. vctlCzuclcmis) and Coccol<lba "vi/fT. ,,"uva de play,"), all known from the vicinity of Taima-tairna at present. The sheared ru,;~~s recovered from the vicinity of the butene-red juvenile rnastodont unfortunately could not be identified, but thorns were notable on the twigs: and it is like I)' that genera now in the area, such as Prosapi>, Ctrcidiwr: 2.1d CacsoIP'-IJ;", are represented, The sparse evidence from the plant remains in Unit !. then, suggests a vegetation pattern like that of the present (Ochsenius n.d.). Plant remains from tile organic black clo)' deposit of Unit Ill could not be identified due to an inadequate sample of the deposit still exposed in 1976, but the black clav is believed to represent an interval of pending after colluvial deposition and weathering of me red sand of Unit II. The old land surface of me Unit IIlI disconforrniry may indicate a drier clim.tic interval, but il is also possible tltst the spring Dow migrated temporarily 10 another pan of the basin,

The Faunal Sequence

The bones recovered from Taima-taima m 1976 were identified bv Rododo M.

Casarniquela aher tile remains had been removed from the site a! theclo,eof.,Cl"'· lions. Due to inadequate control 01 the water level during excaveuan. most 01 tht hnne s were in poor condition by tile rime he examine d the collection Casarniquela had onlv a few weeks at his disposal to analyze til. ccllecuon In Coro, and no cr.mparauve collecuon al hand. In view of these restrictions, he regards the classifrauon (detailed in Casamiquela n.d.) as ani)' temauve. v.itl! certain taxonomic assignations reQUlnn~ reanalysis and refinement.

Ag1.Jr(!! 5.3_ Th{~ ptoJ&dj~ peens Iron'! the El Jobc, 'I)'Pe' SIte In the Rio Peoor89(t1 v alley 11'Ie ml.Qs.8cIlQn .5 s~mila' tc th[1 specimen round wi~nlrl 'he OOdy Gilvity o! the JU¥8fl1le m2.SIodOnl at Taima-t.B.lma. The edge 01 me POint silo'M'l 0111 ee lar 09h1 was proouced by uSing rne flake arrtses on oee surtace as ptartoerns Iur 'h~ detOlcnfT14!:n~ O· pressure Ilakes on the oPpG511"19 aunace (sca~e IS U: iuusveucn [)~ R WII.j


The Cobble Pavement

Bones recovered from the cobble pavement in the )976 excavations were waterworn and often broken. The remains which could be definitely assigned to t.hls hOJUtJi! were exclusively rnasiodont. representing individuals or all ages. Casamiquela rentatil'el), dassuied the molars as pertaining to the genera SttgcmltlSliJd()n MO Haplomastodon. Elements present include tusk tragrnents. molars. mandibular fragments. vertebrae. ribs, fragments of scapulae and pelves. femora, tibbe, humeri. and podials. h IS. notable T.,.l-j,at three femora showed clear evidence (in the form of multiple. CriSSCTOSSLn~. linear abrasion scars on the upper surface) of human lise <l5 anvils: two of these "';.-«,:r", embe-dded in the cobble pa .... -ement in the vicinity of the butchered jlJ\'crUJe mastodorn situated .1( the base of Unit I and must have been used bv the successful nuntcr s

expediently a; chopping clocks, -

Unit I

Numerous bones were recovered in the 1976 excavations or the grey cla)'e~' sand of Un t l. Mastodon: remains were in higheSI frequency, A partially articulated skeleton 01 a juvenile mastodonr.with dear evidence of butchering and an El Job" projectile POint (fi._ ';.3) in the pubic 0",11', was the ruajor find. situated at the base of L'n,t I (fig'_ 5.4. 5.5) The heac and right forelimb had be en complerelv removed b)' the successful hun:l·r~. Other mashJdLIIl! remains ~onl Urut 1 included adult ur )u\'cnLl," m'Ulcllbt. •. ";'


flgllJre 5.4. bC4!lV,u~.$ m :crogiess al Ts.al'la-laJma In 1976 In tne ro-r~rGuM I~ [:-'EskellOlM ot ete It}V@nile mastodont r\e8r U\e base of UrJ1 t .... me backg,ounj i!. on Inveneo;j gtyplOClool carapace 00 the Unit Vii dlSaYlbrmny.

molars. tusk fragments, and fragrne:ntary humeri. ulnae I vertebrae. and scapulae. On the basis of the molar .norphologv Casamiqoela identi.fi,t'd Haplrl11'UlSrDdlm and perhaps S/fg(I1'Mslodtm. in addition to the mastcdom re mains , the Unit 1 sand yielded Wet' fragmentary gtvptcdcm seines (C1xPWMn and "Scjerccalvptonae incrrlDc "d,,) anc three molars of Equus. A fragmentary tooth of GLoS50thrrifl.m and J molar tooth of an ur sid probably ParG.r(tat~n'Um, were also reco v Ned from Unit 1. tn addition to .. smal. scapula and rib whlch m.<;IJ' pertain [0 a fetid.

Unil Ilfl Disconforrmty

011 the cld land surface represented by the Unit lIll discorUormilr were numerous eroded bone- fragments-s-rnolars. vertebrae, ribs. fragmentary limbs. SCUil..·~ff'prt"se-ntif1g a variety of animals. Notabl)' absent, however, is mastodo-n. Toe absence can hardly be a 5J... .. -npling error. as rnastodoms have bigger bones to leave more n:h:·nti.fi able fragments than the taxa which are represented. The most numerous remains idrmifiable Me those of horse !£quu.s and H;ppidilm). glyptodom (GIyPlodlJ>! and ~.sc-lerocalypt.()nCJe Incrrlae s,cdl...!). and MatTQucheniIJ. A major find. requiring very caIf"f'.ll CX.Q\·,atlOl1 and removal en bio«, was an inverted gl~'rJollld()n1 carapace, \I,;tn fragmentary remains 01 the ilium and the vertebral column in the interior (see fig. 5.41. In adduion, scant remain, of a rnvlodontid and an artiodactv] were found, pi", jj,'. fragments of tortoise carapace [C,;rMWne).


The 1976 e>C2\'3QonS at Taima-rairna indicated three faunal assemblage> co-te- 1c.1(·d mth major stratigrapnic honzons: bones impacted iru« Lht· cobble pavement. bones enclosed ... ithin the grev clBye, sand 01 Unit I. and eroded bone fragmen" exposed on the Unit l/ll disconlormity, Mastodoru remains are the predominant element in the- twn eartier faunal assemblages; in the assemblage from L~C lOll 1~1 discontormnrjld~:tJdont is. conspicuously absent. To toe considered as factors u1\'ol\'ed l!i an t"XpL.l!I'1 titlfl cf we faunal sequence are em"1fonmental changes and human acrivny.

Flgl,lfe 5.50. Sones mapped 8t Tatl'YWlo'laima in 1976, Dashed line Indlcalf'~ profiles ::I~PIC1&d on Figurl ~ . .2

All DOt\e~ are of maslOdonl unless otheJ'Wl;s,e. noled. Sones WlIh hea.....,. outlme Of'\.map retare 10 me jlJ\lRnile mBSt~1 5oli.elemli or occur at !.he- seee leverm Urm 1: otner bones W9re embeOded In the U'ndertylli9 cobtlie paven'let'll: ~ .E_I .jeee PQ1fl~ I!. the :small lM.ngle In ,he pub!t- c.vlty.

.... iP Ho. kSenttt~Uon .... p No. kjem.ttlca1i~'"
2'3 unW:ienMfed pelvtC or scapular 89. SIOOJI'IonQbIXle
fragment 90 lett ternur=-usec as jJl'\Vlr
ao. patella 9. OI'!I~ellllll~
3'. basa1 'r"~l 01 erMium, YIoitll-wom 92 gtyptodoru SCUll!!
32. lermi~llTa9ID6nt 01 tusk. fuvsnile 93. un.~ntjfie<: 1001 botJe
33. atlas 94. unide ... tified 1001 bone'!.
34 6U1 right lhoI'ilQC ri~ 95. ph.a.lange, 1ef1.
35. 7th rlghl eereee rib 96. untdentrl.oo
36. un~enlil.ed Iragrnent 97. lilh, fl9hllhllraclc ntl
37. tre-gmfl:n1 orn.b S8. fri!9~nl 04 ~1vI'S
3B. pf\aliil19t" 9. SQI~vla 01 canwcre
39. unidenlJfleO !ragmenl HlO. vertebra. ILNe-n~le
'0. LJ'I"'lid8l'lti11~,tib 1 O~. 6tt1 IElt~ lnoroillClcnb
<t. 'l.Jntdentlfieod rib 102. rough 110TIe
41. 9tn en thc;Ilaci; rib 103. "th nght irorecc rio
• 3 , S1h leh thon:cic rib-'one CIA mar\: 10< . h .. ~me(ll or ,Iflh uln,,-vSt'd ,is a ....... il
.. ,,,1}; te11 thOrac:.ic rib '05 . Ie!\ f£lldll"lS
45. 1 lin len thOraeie Ii!I 106. 101hrigl"'lllhQfaCJCnc
06. 1'111 hum9fU:!i-sD CU'I iMOLs H11. Htfl rignlihoraclc nb
" left eeeeure .00 i3m rigl1l ec-ece no
46. 'en lernUl 109. nghllibia
49. tragrr.enl of IWw.am 01 small mammal 110. 1'iQ1il11t>u1i!
so, ~~manl of rit;! l'11. rigilliemur
51. 'ehwil".a 112 left pu~~ and lSCllum
52. 19th Ilght eeeece nb \13, right pubis ilOO is,ehium
SJ. 16th il'i9r"1~ lI'\Ot'{l'-c.'\C rib 11. Bnlall nb
54. HUh Ish thoracic rio "S. epq:.tlysi${jj ien illum
55 mios.eetion of 1ef'1 hwrnervs ii6 ~!'Istone
~6. lett flbute n? small IUl,gmelit or OOf"fI
51. len uore 118 ~hiltum
58. right femur-used as 8nvil 119. s,,'T1.;:I1I $G8.pu13
59. fra.gmefll Cl' vencb.a 120. .small long oorre
60. lere mandrtne 121. jJn!dentihe<l
6 tdull molar 122. nghJ Llrum
62 1l.8J(ed ~oo!& 123. 151 caudal ve-r1,ellJra
'63, fraQmBfll 01 vertebra 124. lSI sacral \lenebls
64 HM Illn ThO-raclc fib .25. 4m lumbar vef1l1'bfa
65 juvenii8 molar '2!5 3rd lumbar veneora
66. '.ak:e(.1 pebble '27 2nd .aM 3r.o soIIClai ~ilI"et);iille
!7. left mat'ldi~lt!I, ~Ie (part o( roO. &.4) '28. Ira.gmenl 01 vertebra
60, rough stone ,2(1. 2nd iumNt ..... etec-e
69. flaKed pebble 130. 19th lhoradc- vertebra
70. acllJtll'n()lar 131. 1etJ'\ U'\Oracic vertebra
71. roo..rghstOOD '32 17th tboracc vertebra
72 jU'o'enUe mOI.Bf 133. 16th lePi '!:horae": lib
73. Ilaked pebble 134. ,4th and 13lh ecrscc vertel)rie
7<. ftal<ed pebble 135. 161h e-o lOth UlOt8.QC ven.f!-Dfae
75. neeeo .p.e!Dtlle ':le. ha-gmen~ 01 Io'!-r'le~a
76. 'ragment or IUSIo:, jWS'lllle 137 tr Agmer'll 01 veoebea
n. mlosection at left lemur-us.eCI I." anvil l:la fragment 01 venellra
16 molar e- urst~ IW. .. 2th It'IOrfltic vtlr1.E!:~!a
1B jregment (If ~flnebriill "0 ~3tn thcraec venl!'tlli
BO, ten tnBndlbl&. JU\rBntlt \41 mjQ:sechon 01 nOr"lt lemur
81- 12U'1 righl I:I"IOrar.:ic nb ... ,42: 18t11 Ilgt11 lhora'CIC nc
82 phaI8f1ge, ~" \'3 lSllumO{u ~er1ttllil
53 mandiblft, juvenile '44. 4ih sacral von,Ora.
e. rLghl mllndil)le, iLIven.llE!' !~.~rt 01 no 61) '.5 11lh 1.,11 thorllCIC fll}-QI'Ie cct mal~
85. mceectrcn QI Illlflr'ltlle rlghl Ilbl3 1<6 191h let! thOracIC nb
86 {.ragmen! 01 venebra IH lraQmen~ 01 nb
a1 lJnlaenrr'~,,, '.48 ~Jlh jen LMllle", rib
88 umdenlJfle(:l \49 lragmenl ot lemur 134


Consideration of abschxe chronology is also a {actor in the discussion. Mastcdoru bones collected from the cobble pa .... emem in 1976 for radiocarbon analysis haw; be-en undatable due to lack of collagen: nevertheless BIT'n, and Gruhn (n d.) speculate Wl an anomalous organic carbon date of 14.400 = 435 yr B.P. (lVlC-191·2)on bone collected " pr€\10LJ5 excavations. reportedly from the grey sand of Unit I. may actualJ)' be a bone imbedded in the gre)' sand bu; derived Irom the cobble pavement. The gre)" clayev sane of Unit 1, with its assemblage of mastodont plus glyptcdont. horse. m~·jorltid. ursid. and felid. is securely dated between 13,400 yr B_P. and 12,500 j'T a.p, The varied Iaunal assemblage Irom the Unit VII discorfcrrrury, distinguished by the absence of mastodom. may be dated 01 about 11.800)T B.P.; i, is certainly older than 10.200 )T B.P .. Ill. dale for the black day of Unit lll. which IS separated from it by the red sand deposit of Unit J! and a weathering horizon al the top at lJrut U.

The admittedly spar-se paleoenvironmental data from Tairna-taima g1\'{' T1{} evidence of significant differences in the local environmem of late Pleistocene Urnes from that of the present. Indeed, Ochsenius (nd.) argues for a semiarid climate and thorn forest cover in the coastal zone of north-central Venezuela in the late Pleistocene. notwithstanding plausible counter-evidence in the form of the presence of megafauna until 10.000 year, '1&0. All taxa including the probcscideans might nave been adaptable to semiarid conditions, much as slrnilM taxa are to the present semiarid environrnerus ot east and south Africa.

Further detailed research in aspects of the paleoenvironment reflected in late Pleistocene deposits of north-central Venezuela will be necessary to give a fuU picture of the late Pleistocene habitat. A most crucial paleoenvironmental horizon to 'Studr \l,ill be that corresponding to the Unit LI1l disconformiry at Talma-taima. wben mastooom has disappeared from the area although other Pleistocene taxa continue. We SUSpeCL that drier climatic conditions may have prevailed at L"LUs time, but at pre-sent there I~ 01' adequate data base for postulating local environmental change- as the cause of extincuon.

The hand of man is certainly evident at Taima-tairna, with a definite rnasrudoru kl.!~ at the edge of the water hole about 13.000 years ago documented in the 1976 excavations. as well as evidence of other kiils at the site found in previous eXC3\·aUQM. Projectile pcints of the EI lobo complex were also recorded with mastocom remains. including deliberatel\' grooved mastodont bones (d. Roose and Cruxem 1%3b: pI. 4) at the nearby water hole 01 Muaco, which has two radiocarbon dates on burned bon. or 16,375::: 400 vr B.P. (M-J()68) and 14.300 '" 500 yr a.p. (0-999) (Cruxem 1961l. Ilk animals may have been ambushed at these water holes, Or the hunters may nave struck elsewhere and tracked the wounded animals to water. A third probable lciJl site wuh EI Iobc points in association ...... ith mastodoet remains is Cucuruchu, in a side canyon in a gorge near the sea a few kilometers east of Taima-taima

Artifacts of the EI Jobo complex are also kno .. " from suriicial sites on the rrudcle terraces of the Rio Pedregal, about 80 ian south-southwest of Taima-taima This 1~ an area with abundant fine quartzite •• flakeable material commonly used by EI [obo hun· ters: many of the archaeological sites fro-n this type area are clearly quarry workshops. It is notable that assemblages of stone artifacts on the higher benches of the RhO Pedregal valley include no projectile points-only flakes. cores, choppers. urulac scrape". and large. thick bifaces. An evoluoon of these industnes (Carnare complex. Las Lagunas complex) into the EI lobo complex has been postulated (Rouse ilJ1G Cruxent 1963.:28-33. Bryan 19;·3). although II is undernonstrable without. del.uco study of the geomorphology of the Rio Pedregal terraces and the geochronology of the sites. On typological ground" however, it is possible to' speculate thal the local precursors of tl1 EJ Jobo complex in north-central Venezue~ innovated btlaoat 1",,(0013l. projectile points from their existing lithic repertoire.

DIe £1 jobo complex. then. would mar); the local developrnem of. proboscideanhunting' complex certainly by 13.000 l'~ars ago and quite possibtv as earlv ,< 16.0\


yeus ago. This development in n nh-central Venezuela must be entirely independent of the emergence of the Clovis or UaTlO complex of North America. with us markedly different lithic technology and age of only 11.500-11.000 yr B.P. Ind""o. a focus on prQooscideilJ1 hunting. may be seen as afl independent cu1t~ deve!~pment w hich look place I!l seveiii dlberenl areas as responses to avana6ie: eConOffiJr rC"soun.:e~ World 35 well as Ir1lhe !'Joe"... World.

Urlee tFk lechnology was e\~olved in eorth-cemral Venezuela, mastodcnts may have yielded to huntmg pressures. Even if the rnastodems were gone b)- 11,800 years ago, ho ..... ever. various ather Pleistocene rnegafauna-e-glyptodor t. horse, Mocf'aucJu:nLo, mylodont-e-continued to range the Taima-tairna area beyond that time, appareruly able to cope. at least for some time. ~ith human predation. The dating and cause of final extinction of these: taxa i:n north-central Venezuela is yet to be determined.


We are grateful to the Centro do Investigaciones del Paleoindic y Cuarernario Sudamericano (CIPKS) (Dr supporting the 1976 excavations at Taima-taima

Bryan, Alar,. L. 1973 ?a1eoenvi.ro~nts and cultural ,djvt!"siry in Late Pleistocene South Amerca. Q.wu-mary Rtst.ardl 3(2}:ZJ7- 256.

Bryan. A. L.. R. M. Cas.:lmi(lueli!., l M.

Cruxeru, R. Gruhn. and C. ~nlus. n.d. An EI jobo mastodon kill .t Toima·uima, Venezuela, Scimt:t ZOO: 12 75-1217.

Bryan. Alan L .• and RutIJ Gruhn. 1980. The radiocarbon dates. l»: Ochsenars, C" &rid R. Gruhn (""'0'-;). Teirna-taima: Fin.! Repon on the 1976 Excavations. MDftI)gr'Il/ias Citnlijicas 3, p,.~ C!PICS. Unlvereidad Francisco de Miranda. Cere. veoee uela. In pre-ss.

Casa...ruquela, Rodo1fo M. n. d. An. jaterpretalion o( rbe f-o-ss.iJ vertebrates of the Taimauim> she. I,,: Ochseniu s. C .• and R. Gruhn (editors). T.un,·~: F!MI Repcn oe Lhc 1915 E.",,,,,Con5. M_trafoJ, Cioo/(fica. 3. Prcgrama CIP1CS, Universidad Franclscc de Miranda, Core, Vene:r.:uel.a. In press,

Cruxent, Jose M. 1961, Huescs querrudos en el yzcimiento prehislorico de Muaco. Me Deptc. de A"'''Qpo~gia Boletin lnf,nnau,", 2:20-2l.

----. 1967. EI Paleo-Indio en Taima-tairna Eatado Falcon, V.n«u,lo. Ac", Citntir,,; V'>ItZD/aItC Suppl. 3:3-17.


.97(l. Projectile points with Pleisrocene ma:mm;J~ in veeeroeia. Anriquii"y «: 223- 225.

Crexent. Jose M .. and L>'ing RQu~>I!'. 1956. A tithic ~U.'!H')' 0-' Pale-o-rndlan t)"P': in Venezuela. A"""",,, A~iJ)" 22: 172-119.

Ochsenius. Claudie. n.d. A brief caleoecclcgical inl~reuoon 0' the site ()f Taima-tauna .and its 5WTOWldings. J If: Oehseraus, c., and R. Gruhn (.djtor,). T..",·Wma: Final Report on the ]976 Excavations. M~()gra("" C;",..tlfic", 3. Pmgrama CIPIC$, Uflit,oeraidad Frnlcisco de Minnda. Coro. Venezueb. lrt press

Odls<ru"" Claudio. ",d RutIJ Gruhn (""",,). n.d. Taima·toim.a: Fin.! Report 00 tile 1976 eXC3v3.oo:nS,. M()"o;raFUlS CimHjicl'U 3. Progranu c!Ples. UI\J,enid.Jd Francisco d. Mir.nda. Cere. V<.D<ZI>eIa. In pte".

R""..,. lrviog. and )0"; M. ("",ene 1%3i..

Some recent Drl«arbon dales for western Yenezuela. AmtritQ7I A"Iiq'ull)' 280:537- 540.

--. 1.96."lb. V ........ "'" An: ... oIog>·. Yal.

UniversilY Preas. Nl!:w Haven.

Rcye Y Gomez. Jose. 1960. EI Y41CU1'Uen~Q de vertc:tH''Jdas Pleiatocenos de MU3tL), ESL.ado Fuan. Venezuela. con mdustria lhica humaru. J"tenuJhonal Gtoloj'".col Con. gttJ's, 21st report, Pan t pp. 154-1507. Copenhagen.

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->