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The Environments of the Earliest Australopithecus Essay

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Background and goals

The conditions in which bipedal locomotion emerged are still unresolved. However they are all closely dependent on environment reconstructions. This project will contribute to the scientific community's understanding of the environments of the earliest Australopithecine.

Australopithecus anamensis is the earliest species of the genus and the first indisputably bipedal hominid. According to paleoecological analyses (isotopes, fauna, soils, etc) (2,3), these hominids were generalists who lived in mosaic environments , e.g. a mix of habitat types. However, the specifics of the exploitation of the environments by the hominids need to be further explored.Understanding the conditions of local environments is essential for understanding changes that occur on a global scale, such as with climate change. The same principle applies to ancient environments: the local can have an impact on the global. The concept of realized niche describes a niche that is actually occupied by a species in a particular site (4), as opposed to the full range of environmental conditions a species has the capacity to occupy. An animal might restrict its niche as a result of interspecific competition for instance. The aim of this project is to explore the niche breath and heterogeneity of Au. Anamensis.

Situated in both Kenya and Ethiopia, the Omo-Turkana basin it is of major importance in paleoanthropology, because it encompasses some of the most prolific hominid-bearing geological formations, such as the Koobi Fora and Shungura Formations (1). overall research plan involves the comparison of three different fossil collections from the Turkana Basin that are approximately 4 million years old (Ma): those of Mursi (Ethiopia), Allia Bay ...


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...Evolution, 49 (2) : 206-229. And references therein.
(3) Kingston, JD, 2007. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 134 (S45): 20-58. And references therein.
(4) Malanson, GP, Westman, WE & Y-L Yan, 1992. Ecological Modelling, 64 (4): 261-277.
(5) Walker, A, 2002. Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News and Review, 11 (S1): 38-41.
(6) Behrensmeyer, AK & Kidwell, SM, 1985. Paleobiology, 11(1): 105-119.
(7) Dumouchel, L, 2013. Étude taphonomique des assemblages de la formation géologique Mursi et du membre A de la formation Shungura, Éthiopie. MSc Anthropology, Université de Montréal.
(8) Ward, CV et al., 2010. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B., 365 (1556): 3333-3344.
(9) Conroy, GC & Pontzer, H, 2012. Reconstructing Human Origins, Third Ed. Norton.
(10) Behrensmeyer, AK & Reed KE, 2013. The Paleobiology of Australopithecus: 41-60. Springer.



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