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Day 24 (July 19, 2011) Microfauna—What the Tiniest Bones Tell Us
July 19, 2011
Microfauna are tiny bones used to reconstruct paleoenvironments. Examples of microfaunal remains can include small mammals, fish, invertebrates, birds, and reptiles. The bones are so small, in fact, that they are often missed in standard excavation procedure. Instead, her research requires a much more complicated filtering process.
Methodically speaking, that’s already a lot of work! However, finding the microfauna is only half the battle; she then has to analyze the findings!
Why is it important to identify the creature? By knowing which animals lived in the various layers of Olorgesailie in the past, we can determine what the environment was like and how the habitats changed from one layer to the next, over time. For example, there are some frogs which require a water source year round. On the other hand, there are some types of frogs which estivate, that is, they burrow in the ground when water is scarce. Determining which kinds of frogs were present at Olorgesailie gives us information about seasonal variation and rainfall.