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Application of the Biological Model of Diversification to Cultural Distributions in Tropical Lowland South America

Betty J. Meggers
Biotropica
Vol. 7, No. 3 (Sep., 1975), pp. 141-161
DOI: 10.2307/2989620
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2989620
Page Count: 21
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Application of the Biological Model of Diversification to Cultural Distributions in Tropical Lowland South America
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Abstract

Evidence from several fields suggests that Amazonia has not remained free from the drastic type of climatic fluctuations experienced in temperate and highland portions of the western hemisphere during Pleistocene and Recent times. Zoologists and botanists have employed a model of climatic and vegetational cycles, in which the lowland tropical forest was periodically reduced to enclaves isolated by savanna or parkland, to explain the abundance of species and their distributions. Since the two most recent episodes occurred subsequent to man's arrival, their impact should be observable in the anthropological evidence. Examination of linguistic, ethnographic, and archeological data reveals patterns in harmony with the biogeographical model, opening a new avenue for interpretation of the history of human adaptation to the tropical lowlands prior to European contact.

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