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Hunting-Scavenging Protohominids: A Model for Hominid Origins

Frederick S. Szalay
Man
New Series, Vol. 10, No. 3 (Sep., 1975), pp. 420-429
DOI: 10.2307/2799811
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2799811
Page Count: 10
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Hunting-Scavenging Protohominids: A Model for Hominid Origins
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Abstract

The interpretation of the baboon-protegelada evolutionary transition as a response to the exploitation of new food resources, the availability of grasses and their seeds in open savanna country, is reasonable on dental and ecological evidence. But the extension of this model by Jolly (1970) to explain hominid origins is not justified, as detailed functional comparison of the known hominid dentitions indicates. It appears that the morphotype of the Plio-Pleistocence hominid dentitions evolved in response to strong positive selection for increased incisivation and increased molar ability to withstand compressive forces. It is argued that these features, given the phylogenetic heritage of the first hominids from their pongid ancestry, are particularly appropriate to meat tearing and bone crushing, and that the protohominid dentition became adapted to a dietary regime consisting primarily, but not exclusively, of scavenging.

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