Thursday, February 16, 2012

Independent team reinterprets Ardipithecus paleoenvironment

Modern day Awash River

Two scientists from the University of New Orleans and Tulane University recently published a reinterpretation (subscription required) of the sedimentary context at the main Ardipithecus site, AramisThis work is based on their own independent geological field work at the site. Results are in agreement with a previous critique (discussed in this post) to the Ardi team's interpretation of the isotopic evidence. These new sedimentological data suggest that Ardi lived in a river-margin forest in an otherwise more open wooded-grassland context. This is in contrast to the interpretations of the Ardi team, which vigorously argued that Ardi lived in a habitat of extensive closed-woodland with true forest patches. 

This new interpretation of the Ardi habitat sounds like a mosaic habitat....which is interesting in light of White and colleagues insistence that characterizations of hominins as preferring mosaic habitats were "unwarranted assertions" based on studying "mixed assemblages" (White et al., 2009:78).

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