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Is the “Savanna Hypothesis” a Dead Concept for Explaining the Emergence of the Earliest Hominins?

M. Domínguez-Rodrigo
Current Anthropology
Vol. 55, No. 1 (February 2014), pp. 59-81
DOI: 10.1086/674530
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/674530
Page Count: 23
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Is the “Savanna Hypothesis” a Dead Concept for Explaining the Emergence of the Earliest Hominins?
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Abstract

There is a growing consensus in early hominin studies that savannas did not play a significant role in the emergence of human evolutionary processes. Early hominins have been reported to be associated with densely wooded environments and sometimes forest, thereby reducing the importance of a shift from closed to open ecosystems in shaping these processes. In the second half of the twentieth century, two versions of the savanna hypothesis emerged: one depicted savannas as grasslands, the other as seasonal mosaic environments. Research has shown that the former is no longer tenable, but an increasing amount of paleoecological information provides compelling support for the latter. Here a critical review of the available paleoecological evidence is presented, and it is concluded that the savanna hypothesis not only has not been falsified but its heuristics are stronger than ever before.

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