07 June 2018 Photo Prof CB Bousman, from Texas State University.
Quaternary International volume dedicated to UFS research fellow
Dr James Brink visits the Erfkroon site on the Modder River in the Free State.

The contents of a special issue of Quaternary International (QI), consisting of 13 articles and contributions by 45 authors (25 from abroad), was recently presented to Dr James Simpson Brink. The papers represent the broad range of topics covered by Dr Brink’s research interests.  

The special issue of QI was initiated to coincide with James Simpson Brink’s 60th birthday after he recently celebrated 35 years of ground-breaking research at the National Museum of Bloemfontein.

Dr Brink is affiliated to the Centre for Environmental Management at the University of the Free State (UFS).

Prof Louis Scott, researcher in the Department of Plant Sciences at the UFS, was the executive guest editor, and was part of a team of three guest editors (Dr Liora Horwitz from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and Dr Daryl Codron from the National Museum in Bloemfontein) who worked on this special issue of the journal, QI. 

In honour of a friend and colleague
“Dr Brink made contributions to osteology, Quaternary palaeontology, and archaeozoology, by investigating the environments and mechanisms that drove the evolution of mammal communities of southern Africa,” said the guest editors. 

“By studying the morphology of the endemic black wildebeest he demonstrated how the species evolved in the central interior of South Africa. He pioneered descriptions and dating of faunal assemblages that make up the so-called ‘Cornelian’ and ‘Florisian’ Land Mammal Ages. In this way he reconstructed the long history of environments in which Stone Age occupants survived in the region. The work included the age determination of the cranium with facial bones of an individual who lived at Floribad around 250 000 years ago.

Work enabled more important studies
“Dr Brink contributed more than purely academic insights in that he built and curated the modern mammal and fossil faunal collections of the Florisbad Quaternary Research Station. These collections made it possible for researchers, who came from all over the world, to visit the Free State and focus on spatial and temporal palaeoenvironmental trends. Apart from contributing to the functional diversity of mammalian species, this enabled the investigation of morphological and behavioural variations across populations and communities,” said the editors.

The topics of the papers in this special issue of QI are interdisciplinary and include different methods in archaeology, vertebrate palaeontology and past (or palaeo-) environmental reconstruction. The ages dealt with range from the relatively recent Iron Age to the Oldowan period, which is over a million years old.

According to Prof Scott, with a degree of overlap in the interdisciplinary fields studied, the papers can be arranged into 1) taphonomy and archaeozoology, relating to the processes resulting in the formation and preservation of fossil material in archaeological sites, 2) Stone Age archaeology, dealing with artefacts, stratigraphy and palaeoanthropology, and 3) palaeoecology, that includes palaeontology, isotope studies and palaeoenvironmental reconstructions.

The journal, published by Elsevier, will be distributed worldwide. 

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