This paper reviews the extensive carnivoran fauna of Laetoli on the basis of collections housed in Berlin, London, Nairobi, and Dar es Salaam. Members of the Carnivora are known from both the Lower and Upper Laetolil Beds, as well as from the Upper Ndolanya Beds. Of these, the Upper Laetolil Beds are best sampled, and the material includes a minimum of 28 species of Carnivora (four Canidae, three Mustelidae, three Viverridae, six Herpestidae, five Hyaenidae, and seven Felidae). Many of the smaller Carnivora species include complete or partial skeletons and whole, undamaged crania, suggesting rapid burial and absence of trampling and other taphonomic processes that severely affected the more fragmentary larger Carnivora. The Upper Ndolanya Beds Carnivora are preserved in a similar fashion. This stratigraphic unit includes nine to ten species (one Mustelidae, two Herpestidae, one or two Hyaenidae, and five Felidae). All of these are also known from the Upper Laetolil Beds. The Lower Laetolil Beds are less well sampled, with only four species of Carnivora (one Mustelidae, one Herpestidae, and two Hyaenidae). Of these, the mustelid and one hyenid are unique to this stratigraphic unit, while one hyenid is shared with the Upper Laetolil Beds and the herpestid with both the Upper Laetolil Beds and the Upper Ndolanya Beds. Three of the Lower Laetolil Beds Carnivora (all except the herpestid) are partial skeletons, suggesting different depositional or taphonomic conditions at that time, while the presence of an otter in the Lower Laetolil Beds indicates the presence of a large, permanent body of water in the vicinity.
Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands, 2011. 189-232 p.