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Early human habitat was savanna, not forest
Date:5/27/2010

pe-like creature that stood about 4 feet tall and had a brain less than a quarter of the size of a modern day human's. This data was collected from ancient soils, plant fossils and other remains in the area now known as Aramis, in Ethiopia.

Levin's team found that tropical grasses, in fact, comprised between 40 and 60 percent of the biomass in Ardi's world.

Levin says her team's conclusion is noteworthy because, if scientists are to evaluate the environmental pressures that triggered the evolutionary success of some traits over others, they must clearly understand the environment itself.

"In their papers and summaries, White and his colleagues emphasize that A. ramidus had a mix of traits that suggest it was at ease both walking upright on the ground and moving through the trees on its palms," Levin explains. "If the habitat of A. ramidus was, in fact, a woodland with forest patches, where grasses were rare, then it's unlikely that the increased presence of grassy environments were the driving force behind the origin of upright walking in early human ancestors. However, if the habitat of A. ramidus included savannas where grasses were up to 60 percent of the available biomass, then we cannot rule out the possibility that open environments played an important role in human origins and, in particular, in the origins of upright walking. The scientific community and the public should not accept an exclusively woodland/forested habitat for A. ramidus and the origins of upright walking, because the data do not support it."

The critique concludes that although its authors do not judge the validity of the savanna hypothesis, the connection between human ancestors walking upright and the expansion of grasslands remains a viable idea.


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Contact: Lisa DeNike
Lde@jhu.edu
443-287-9960
Johns Hopkins University
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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