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The Environment of Ramapithecus in Africa

Peter Andrews and Elizabeth Nesbit Evans
Paleobiology
Vol. 5, No. 1 (Winter, 1979), pp. 22-30
Published by: Paleontological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2400387
Page Count: 9
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The Environment of Ramapithecus in Africa
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Abstract

The faunas of three fossil sites in Africa that contain time successive groups of fossil Hominoidea have been analyzed to determine their paleoenvironments. The basis for the analysis is an assessment of the ecological diversity of the fauna, which is expressed in terms of four categories: taxonomic composition, body size, feeding habits and locomotor zonal adaptation. This method has shown that the community structures of the three fossil faunas are significantly different, and comparisons with the community structure of modern habitats suggest that the environment of the early Miocene fauna of Songhor, and the primitive apes associated with it, was probably a type of lowland forest; the habitat of Ramapithecus and the Fort Ternan middle Miocene fauna compares best with modern woodland-bushland habitats; and the habitat of Homo habilis at Olduvai appears to have been intermediate between grassland and woodland-bushland. If man evolved from one of the early forest living apes, as seems likely on present evidence, an adaptive shift from forest to non-forest habitats must have occurred at some stage in his evolution. The evidence from Fort Ternan shows that in Africa Ramapithecus made this adaptive shift, and it is also now becoming clear that several genera of Eurasian apes, including Ramapithecus, made a similar environmental change at the same time.

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