Rob Blumenschine

Robert Blumenschine received a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1985. He is interested in the evolution of human diet and subsistence strategies, and has conducted archaeological and wildlife research in East Africa, southern Africa, and India. His work on carnivore feeding behavior in the Serengeti of Tanzania has provided insights on the long-debated hunting and scavenging issue in human evolution. Blumenschine has co-directed the Olduvai Landscape Paleoanthropology Project at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, since 1989. This multidisciplinary and international project is expanding on the important archaeological and fossil finds made by Louis and Mary Leakey by reconstructing Olduvai’s ancient landscapes and the activities of the earliest stone-tool makers.

Current project

Olduvai Landscape Paleoanthropology Project (OLAPP): Robert Blumenschine has co-directed this large-scale, multidisciplinary project since 1989. The project involves over 20 senior and student scientists from Tanzania, the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain and South Africa. This work seeks to understand the Early Pleistocene landscapes inhabited by our two million-year old stone tool using hominid ancestors, and the activities they conducted across these landscapes. In addition to fossil survey and excavation at the Gorge, the project studies modern landscapes in Tanzanian lake basins partially analogous to that which existed in the past at Olduvai in order to refine our understanding of ancient environments and hominin ecology.

Selected Publications

2008 H. Stollhofen, I.G. Stanistreet, L.J. McHenry, G.F. Mollel, R.J. Blumenschine, and F.T. Masao. Fingerprinting facies of Tuff IF marker, with implications for early hominin palaeoecology, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, in press.

2008 R.J. Blumenschine, F.T. Masao, J.C. Tactikos, and J.I. Ebert. Effects of distance from stone source on landscape-scale variation in Oldowan artifact assemblages. Journal of Archaeological Science, 35, 76-86.

2007 R.J. Blumenschine, K.A. Prassack, C.D. Kreger, and M.C. Pante. Carnivore tooth marks, microbial bioerosion, and the invalidation of Dominguez-Rodrigo and Barba’s (2006) test of Oldowan hominin scavenging behavior. Journal of Human Evolution, 53, 420-426.

2007 R.J. Blumenschine, S.D. Capaldo, C.R. Peters, P. Andrews, J.K. Njau and B.L. Pobiner. Vertebrate taphonomic perspectives on Oldowan hominin land use in the Plio-Pleistocene Olduvai Basin, Tanzania. In T. Pickering, K. Schick, and N. Toth eds., Breathing Life into Fossils: Taphonomic Studies in Honor of C.K. (Bob) Brain. Gosport, Indiana: Stone Age Institute Press, pp. 161-179.

2006 J.K. Njau and R.J. Blumenschine. A diagnosis of crocodile feeding traces on larger mammal bone, with fossil examples from the Plio-Pleistocene Olduvai Basin, Tanzania. Journal of Human Evolution, 50, 142-162.

2006 R.J. Blumenschine and B.L. Pobiner. Zooarchaeology and the ecology of Oldowan hominin carnivory. In P. Ungar, ed. Evolution of the Human Diet: The Known, the Unknown, and the Unknowable. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 167-190.

2003 R.J. Blumenschine, C.R. Peters, F.T. Masao, R.L. Clarke, A.L. Deino, R.L. Hay, C.C. Swisher , I.G. Stanistreet, G.M. Ashley, L.J. McHenry, N.E. Sikes, N.J. van der Merwe, J.C. Tactikos, A.E. Cushing, D.M. Deocampo, J.K Njau, and J.I Ebert. Late Pliocene Homo and hominid land use from western Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Science, 299, 1217-1221.

2003 B.L. Pobiner and R.J. Blumenschine. A taphonomic perspective on the Oldowan hominid encroachment on the Carnivoran paleoguild. Journal of Taphonomy, 1(2)111-141.

2002 D.M. Deocampo, R.J. Blumenschine, and G.M. Ashley. Wetland diagenesis and traces of early hominids, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Quaternary Research, 57, 271-281.

1998 R.J. Blumenschine and C.R. Peters. Archaeological predictions for hominid land use in the paleo-Olduvai Basin, Tanzania, during lowermost Bed II times. Journal of Human Evolution, 34, 565-607.

1996 R.J. Blumenschine, C.W. Marean and S.D. Capaldo. Blind tests of interanalyst correspondence and accuracy in the identification of cut marks, percussion marks, and carnivore tooth marks on bone surfaces. Journal of Archaeological Science, 23, 493-507.

1995 R.J. Blumenschine. Percussion marks, tooth marks, and experimental determinations of the timing of hominid and carnivore access to long bones at FLK Zinjanthropus, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Journal of Human Evolution, 29, 21-51.

1995 C.R. Peters and R.J. Blumenschine. Landscape perspectives on possible land use patterns for early hominids in the Olduvai Basin. Journal of Human Evolution, 29, 321-362.

1994 R.J. Blumenschine, J.A. Cavallo and S.D. Capaldo. Competition for carcasses and early hominid behavioral ecology: a case study and a conceptual framework. Journal of Human Evolution, 27, 197-213.

1994 S.D. Capaldo and R.J. Blumenschine. A quantitative diagnosis of notches on bovid long bones made by hammerstone percussion and carnivore gnawing. American Antiquity, 59, 724-748.

1993 R.J. Blumenschine and C.W. Marean. A carnivore's view of archaeological bone assemblages. In J. Hudson, ed., From Bones to Behavior: Ethnoarchaeological and Experimental Contributions to the Interpretation of Zooarchaeological Remains. Center for Archaeological Investigations, University of Southern Illinois: Carbondale, pp. 273-300.

1993 R.J. Blumenschine and T.C. Madrigal. Variability in long bone marrow yields of East African ungulates and its zooarchaeological implications. Journal of Archaeological Science, 20, 555-587.

1992 C.W. Marean, L. M. Spencer, R.J. Blumenschine and S.D. Capaldo. Captive hyaena bone choice and destruction, the Schlepp Effect, and Olduvai archaeofaunas. Journal of Archaeological Science, 19, 101-121.

1992 R.J. Blumenschine and J.A. Cavallo. Scavenging and human evolution. Scientific American, 247(4):90-96.

1991 R.J. Blumenschine. Hominid carnivory and foraging strategies, and the socio-economic function of early archaeological sites. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (B), 334, 211-221.

1991 R.J. Blumenschine and F.T. Masao. Living sites at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania? Preliminary landscape archaeology results in the basal Bed II lake margin zone. Journal of Human Evolution, 21, 451-462.

1991 R.J. Blumenschine. Breakfast at Olorgesailie: Early Stone Age archaeology as human natural history. Lead review of The Archaeology of Human Origins: Papers by Glynn Isaac, B. Isaac, editor, Cambridge University Press, 1989. Journal of Human Evolution, 20, 307-327.

1989 R.J. Blumenschine. A landscape taphonomic model of the scale of prehistoric scavenging opportunities. Journal of Human Evolution, 18, 345-371.

1989 J.A. Cavallo and R.J. Blumenschine. Tree-stored leopard kills: Expanding the hominid scavenging niche. Journal of Human Evolution, 18, 393-399.

1988 R.J. Blumenschine and M.M. Selvaggio. Percussion marks on bone surfaces as a new diagnostic of hominid behavior. Nature, 333, 763-765.

1988 R.J. Blumenschine. An experimental model of the timing of hominid and carnivore influence on archaeological bone assemblages. Journal of Archaeological Science, 15, 483-502.

1987 R.J. Blumenschine. Characteristics of an early hominid scavenging niche. Current Anthropology, 28, 383-407.

1986 R.J. Blumenschine. Carcass consumption sequences and the archaeological distinction of scavenging and hunting. Journal of Human Evolution, 15, 639-659.

1986 R.J. Blumenschine and T.M. Caro. Unit flesh weights of some East African bovids. African Journal of Ecology, 24, 273-286.

1986 R.J. Blumenschine. Early Hominid Scavenging Opportunities: Implications of Carcass Availability in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Ecosystems. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports International Series 283, 163 pp.

1981 J.W. Mink, R.J. Blumenschine and D.B. Adams. Ratio of CNS to body metabolism in vertebrates: a demonstration of its constancy and functional basis. American Journal of Physiology, 241, R203-212.

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