In 1982 a mummified adult female baboon was discovered on a ledge in Ludwig Cave in Namibia. A toe bone was removed for dating in July 1995. AMS radiocarbon dating of bone collagen, tendon, and skin indicates a post-modern age. Application of the atomic bomb-spike calibration curve suggests death in late 1977 and an age at death of around 19 years. Baboons roost in the cave and the mummified female, along with a mummified juvenile male discovered in 2002 and three rotting corpses discovered in 1995, were probably chased by other baboons or by leopards down a ca. 6 m drop during the rainy season, and were unable to climb the steep and very slippery slope to escape. The large number of baboons trapped in the cave in less than 20 years, and mummification of two individuals on dry, dusty ledges in the cave, may explain why large numbers of baboon skeletons have been discovered in ancient bone breccias (up to 4 Ma old) in a number of caves throughout Southern Africa.



Included in

Geology Commons