Anthropology P399/P600

Paleoenvironments and Human Evolution

Professor Jeanne Sept

Spring Semester 2001: intensive 8-week course

Tuesday-Thursday 4:00-6:15, Student Building 0150

The goal of this course is to give you an understanding of how paleo-anthropologists can investigate the environmental context of the fossil and archaeological records of proto-humans. We have three basic objectives:

1) to understand the methods of paleo-environmental reconstruction
2) to evaluate site-specific examples of paleo-habitats and hominid paleo-ecology
3) to pursue the larger-scale evolutionary questions of how the human past was shaped by patterns of environmental change.

Since this is an "eight-week" course for 3 credits, the work-load will seem intensive, because we will be covering material at twice the rate of a normal, semester-long course. Just be prepared to plunge-in – I hope it will be both interesting and fun!


First class meets Tuesday March 6, 2001 ……. Last class meets Thursday April 26 2001
Final papers due by 5:00 on Tuesday May 1 (day of final exam)

Basic course organization:
We will be reading and discussing primary literature from scientific journals and edited volumes. Readings will be on reserve in the Geography Library.

  • For the first half of the course we will review the most important methods of paleo-environmental reconstruction. In general, everybody will read the same methods papers, and different students will take turns presenting case studies that illustrate how the methods have been applied.
  • Mid-way through the class we will hold a "symposium" in which every student will play the role of a specialist who has analyzed a different type of data from the same site. The goal of the symposium will be to work out the best interpretation of hominid ecology at the site.
  • The last half of the class we will read and discuss the current hypotheses about the impact of global environmental change on human evolution, and students will be focusing on and giving brief reports on their own research papers.

Course office hours: I’ll be available right after class (TR 6:15-7:00) for short questions, or you can schedule a longer appointment with me at another time.


The best part of a seminar is listening to other students’ reactions to the readings and issues, and developing your own sense of the material through discussion with others. Therefore, your grades will be based on both written work, and class participation. Graduate students enrolled in P600 will be expected to write more thorough reading responses and research papers than the undergraduates.

    Class meetings = 25% of grade:

  • 1 pt for each attendance/in-class discussion or participation (14 pts total), and
  • 1 pt for each reading assignment response (11 pts)
    (if you miss a class meeting, you can make up credit by writing a response to an extra assignment question)

    Symposium mid-term project: 25% of grade

  • A short specialist report to present to students at symposium (10% of grade)
    An essay synthesizing results of the class symposium (15% of grade)

    Final research paper: 50% of grade (~15 pages for undergrads)
    Many options will be available for research paper topics. For example:

  • You could focus on comparing how two closely-related methods of paleoenvironmental reconstruction (e.g. vegetation reconstruction based on pollen analysis versus soil chemistry) have been applied at different sites
  • You could evaluate controversies concerning the paleoenvironmental reconstruction for a single site (e.g. the Miocene ape site of Ft. Ternan)
  • You could summarize the historical development of a method
  • You could focus on a broad question of hominid evolution, such as the "savanna hypothesis" for the emergence of bipedalism and evaluate the data available to test it
  • You could evaluate attempts to reconstruct the habitat of different contemporary species of hominids (e.g., boisei vs habilis)
  • You could look at archaeological evidence of how hominid exploitation of a particular type of habitat changed through time in one region
  • You could summarize the evidence for the total variety of different habitat types known to have been occupied by a hominid species at a particular moment in time

    While many examples we will discuss in class will come from the Plio-Pleistocene of Africa, you are welcome to do a research paper on some human evolution / paleo-environmental question from any region and time you want to. . You just need to discuss it and get your topic approved by Professor Sept before you do it.

    Consult the EXTRA BIBLIOGRAPHY below for starter references on some possible topics!

Topic and Reading Schedule

Tu March 6 Introduction: goals of class, and background on earth’s climate system
Th March 8 Global models of climate change


Spring Break !
Tu March 20 Data from deep sea cores and ice caps: isotopes, sediments and micro-organisms – an African test of global models


Th March 22 Data from terrestrial environments: high latitudes, tropics (lakes, soils) : case studies of stable isotope analyses from soils


Tu March 27 Vegetation reconstruction (soil chemistry, paleobotany, pollen)


Th March 29 Vegetation, plant foods & hominid diet models


Tu April 3 Animal communities (isotopes, assemblage composition, and biometrics)


Th April 5 Animal communities & hominid ecology case studies


Tu April 10 Class symposium


Th April 12 Hominid adaptation & speciation


Tu April 17 What was the role of savannas in human evolution?

Can we differentiate the habitats of different hominid species?


Th April 19 Variability hypothesis & landscape archaeology
Tu April 24 Ecological models of modern human origins (bottlenecks and variability)


Th April 26 Last day of class: graduate student presentations
Tu May 1 Final paper due by 5:00pm

Thursday, March 8:
We’ll review the basic components of climate and talk about global models of climate change.

Everyone read:

  • R.S. Bradley 1999 Paleoclimatology: Reconstructing Climates of the Quaternary 2nd edition. Academic Press. Chapters 1-2 (pp 1-46) (Book on reserve in Geography Library: QC884.B614 1999)

Read either

  • CLIMAP 1976 "The surface of the Ice-Age earth" Science 191(4232): 1131-1137.
  • COHMAP 1988 "Climatic changes of the last 18,000 years: observations and model simulations" Science 241: 1043-52.

Reading response assignment to CLIMAP or COHMAP article:
In a short paragraph, summarize the main objective of the study, the different types of data used, the way(s) the data were analyzed and integrated.
Did any points confuse you that you would like us to clarify in class?
What do you see as the most interesting or potentially controversial conclusion of this study?

Tuesday, March 20
Marine records of climate and hominoid evolution

Read the following chapters and article with the goal of understanding how climate change has influenced the oceans and the proxy indicators of climatic change that are preserved in the marine records. Be able to explain the principles behind Oxygen isotope analysis and explain what Oxygen Isotope stages are. Why are marine sediment cores more informative than ice cores for reconstructing the climatic context of human evolution?

  • R.S. Bradley 1999 Quaternary Paleoclimatology "Chapter 5: Ice cores" and "Chapter 6: Marine sediments" (book on reserve in Geography Library) Skim Chapter 5 to get a basic understanding of the record preserved in ice cores and an explanation of the principles behind isotope analyses. Focus on Chapter 6.

  • P. deMenocal 1995 "Plio-Pleistocene African climate" Science vol 270 (6 Oct): 53-59 PDF available; also on reserve.

For your written assignment, summarize what you see as strong and weak points of deMenocal's work, and its implications for understanding the environmental context of human evolution.
How sensitive are the different types of evidence to changes through time?
What is the relationship between marine records and what was happening on land, particularly in Africa?

Graduate students also read:

  • N. Shackleton 1995 "New data on the evolution of Pliocene climatic variability" pp 242-248 in Paleoclimate and Evolution, with emphasis on human origins E.S. Vrba, et al, eds. Yale U.P. New Have CT. (xerox and book on reserve)
  • P. deMenocal and J. Bloemendal 1995 "Plio-Pleistocene climatic variability in subtropical Africa and the paleoenvironment of hominid evolution: a combined data-model approach" pp 262-288 in Paleoclimate and Evolution, with emphasis on human origins E.S. Vrba, et al, eds. Yale U.P. New Haven CT (xerox and book on reserve).

Thursday March 22
Terresrial environments: lake levels and soils

Everyone read:

  • R.S. Bradley 1999 Quaternary Paleoclimatology Chapter 7 especially from pp 310-335.

Pick two of the following to read, and write a response comparing how the analysis of carbon isotope data is similar/different in the two articles (e.g. questions of the type of paleoenvironment sampled, different spatial and temporal scales of analysis, etc):

  • T.E. Cerling 1992
    "Development of grasslands and savannas in East Africa during the Neogene" Palaeogeography, Paleoclimatology, Palaeoecology 97: 241-247

  • S.H. Ambrose and N.E. Sikes 1991
    "Soil carbon isotope evidence for Holocene habitat change in the Kenya Rift Valley" Science 253: 1402-1405

  • Nancy Sikes 1994
    "Early hominid habitat preferences in East Africa: Paleosol carbon isotopic evidence" Journal of Human Evolution 27: 25-45.
  • Nancy E. Sikes, Richard Potts, A. K. Behrensmeyer 1999
    Early Pleistocene habitat in Member 1 Olorgesailie based on paleosol stable isotopes Journal of Human Evolution, Vol. 37, No. 5, Nov, pp. 721-746

  • Jonathan G. Wynn 2000
    Paleosols, stable carbon isotopes, and paleoenvironmental interpretation of Kanapoi, Northern Kenya Journal of Human Evolution, Vol. 39, No. 4, Oct, pp. 411-432

    An historical reference for graduate students (not on reserve):
  • J.E. Kutzbach and F.A. Street-Perrott 1985 Milankovitch forcing of fluctuations in the level of tropical lakes from 18 to 0 kyr bp Nature 317 (6033): 130-134

Tuesday March 27
Vegetation reconstruction (pollen vs soil chemistry)

What are the key issues and challenges comparing and interpreting pollen that derive from different taphonomic contexts (e.g. deep sea cores, lacustrine sediments, cave deposits)?

What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of using pollen for vegetation reconstructions, compared to soil chemistry, if you are interested in hominid habitats?

Everyone read

  • Bradley Chapter 9 "Pollen Analysis"

Each student will choose ONE of the following articles to report on (grads try to read all four).

  • Bonnefille, R. 1995 "A reassessment of the Plio-Pleistocene pollen record of East Africa" pp 299-310 in Paleoclimate and Evolution with emphasis on human origins. (E.S. Vrba, et al, eds) Yale University Press.
  • S. Leroy and L. Dupont 1994 Development of vegetation and continental aridity in northwestern Africa during the Late Pliocene: the pollen record of ODP site 658 Palaeo Palaeo Palaeo 109, 295-316.
  • Carrion, J.S. , Scott, L. 1999 The challenge of pollen analysis in palaeo-environmental studies of hominid beds: the record from Sterkfontein caves. Journal of human evolution. APR 01 1999 v 36 n 4 : 401
  • Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo et al. 2001
    Fossil pollen from the Upper Humbu Formation of Peninj (Tanzania): hominid adaptation to a dry open Plio-Pleistocene savanna environment JHE 40 (2) pp. 151-157

N.B. For those of you interested in following-up the Sterkfontein article, here’s a more general one that integrates different types of paleoenvironmental information:

  • Kuman-K and Clarke-RJ 2000. Stratigraphy, artefact industries and hominid associations for Sterkfontein, member 5. J-Hum-Evol.2000 Jun; 38(6): 827-47.

Thursday March 29
Vegetation, plant foods & hominid diet models. We’ll continue our discussion of the challenges of vegetation reconstruction by focusing on one of the direct links between hominids and habitat: plant food diet.

  • M.F. Teaford and P.S. Ungar 2000
    Diet and the evolution of the earliest human ancestors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 97(25): 13506-13511 (PDF)
  • Sept, J.M. 2001
    Modeling the edible landscape. In Meat-eating and the fossil record. (H.T. Bunn and C..Stanford, Eds), Oxford University press. Pp 73-98.

Tuesday April 3 (revised)
Methods for reconstructing animal communities (macro & micro; isotopes, assemblage composition, and eco-morphology)

Read TWO of the following articles (one from microfauna, and one from macrofauna list).
In your written response, summarize the goals of the studies you read about, and the similarities and differences you see between the methodological approaches. Come to class prepared to present/discuss what you see as the strengths and weaknesses of the different approaches.


  • H.B. Wesselman 1995
    Of mice and almost-men: regional paleoecology and human evolution in the Turkana Basin. Pp 356-368 In Paleoclimate and Evolution, with emphasis on human origins E.S. Vrba, et al, eds. Yale U.P. New Have CT.
  • C. Denys 1999
    Of mice and men. Evolution in east and south Africa during Plio-Pleistocene times. pp 226-252 in African Biogeography, Climate Change, & Human Evolution. (T.G. Bromage and F. Schrenk, eds) Oxford U.P.

Taxonomic %

  • E.S. Vrba 1980 "The significance of bovid remains as indicators of environment and predation patterns" pp 247-270 in Fossils in the Making. Vertebrate Taphonomy and Paleoecology A.K. Behrensmeyer and A.P. Hill, eds. Chicago U.P.
  • P. Shipman and J.M. Harris 1988 "Habitat preferences and paleoecology of Australopithecus boisei in eastern Africa" pp 343-381 in Evolutionary History of the ‘Robust’ Australopithecines F. Grine (ed) Aldine.


  • John Kappelman, et al. 1997
    Bovids as indicators of Plio-Pleistocene paleoenvironments in East Africa Journal of Human Evolution, Vol. 32, No. 2/3, Feb 1997, pp. 229-256


  • Lillian M. Spencer 1997
    Dietary adaptations of Plio-Pleistocene Bovidae: implications for hominid habitat use Journal of Human Evolution, Vol. 32, No. 2/3, Feb 1997, pp. 201-228

Thursday April 5 (revised)

Can the habitat of the early east African hominid speceis be resolved from fossil associations? Everyone read this general article, not worrying about the details of specific sites, but focusing on the "take home message" of method and theory:

  • T.D. White 1988
    "The comparative biology of "robust" australopithecus: clues from context" in Evolutionary History of the Robust Australopithecines (F. Grine, ed), pp 449-483.

Each of the following articles is a short research report in Nature. that includes a brief description of preliminary evidence for an early australopithecine habitat. Compare TWO of them.

  • M.G. Leakey, et al 1995
    "New four-million-year-old hominid species from Kanapoi and Allia Bay, Kenya" Nature 376: 565-571

  • M. Brunet et al 1995
    "The first australopithecine 2,500 kilometers west of the Rift Valley (Chad)" Nature 378: 273-274

  • Woldegabriel et al 1994
    Ecological and temporal placement of early Pliocene hominids at Aramis, Ethiopia Nature 371: 330-333

  • M.G. Leakey et al 2001
    New hominin genus from eastern Africa shows diverse middle Pliocene lineages. Nature 410: 433-440.
    link to PDF

For each of these articles, compare the evidence described for paleoenvironment with the hypotheses suggested for hominid habitat. Think about what questions you would like to ask the authors to evaluate the strength of their interpretations. Also, if you were going to design the next phase of one of these research projects to collect more data about habitat, what should they do next?

Tuesday April 10: Olduvai Symposium

Background references:

  • J.M. Sept 1997 Investigating Olduvai: Archaeology of human origins CD-ROM. IU Press (2 copies available in Media Reserves in UGL)

  • M.D. Leakey 1970, 1994 Olduvai Gorge Vol 3 & 5 (on reserve in UGL Library) GN776.T3 04 [general background, and discussion of particular locations of individual sites in Beds I - II]

Topical References: (everyone in class will be assigned ONE of the following articles)

  • R.L. Hay 1976 Geology of the Olduvai Gorge: a study of sedimentation in a semiarid basin on reserve in Geography: QE327.T3 H39 [reconstructions of changing geography of lake basin through time, in relation to particular site locations; information on geochemistry of ancient lake, root casts, etc]
  • T.E. Cerling and R.L. Hay 1986 An isotopic study of paleosol carbonates from Olduvai Gorge Quaternary Research 25: 63-78. [Discusses both carbon and oxygen isotope record from lake sediments and soils]
  • R. Bonnefille 1984 Palynological research at Olduvai Gorge National Geographic Society Research Reports 17: 227-243. [Discusses pollen evidence for local and regional climate at different stratigraphic levels from Beds I and II.]
  • N. E. Sikes 1994 Early hominid habitat preferences in East Africa: paleosol carbon isotopic evidence Journal of Human Evolution 27: 25-45. [summarizes sedimentological and plant evidence for different localities at Olduvai, proposes alternative reconstruction to earlier work].
  • P. Andrews 198 Small mammal faunal diversity at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania pp 77-92 in Animals and Archaeology: Hunters and Their Prey J. Clutton-Brock and C. Grigson, (eds) BAR 163. [Discusses an alternative interpretation to rodent fauna]
  • Y. Fernández-Jalvo, C. Denys, P. Andrews, T. Williams, Y. Dauphin, L. Humphrey 1998 Taphonomy and palaeoecology of Olduvai Bed-I (Pleistocene, Tanzania) Journal of Human Evolution, Vol. 34, No. 2, Feb 1998, pp. 137-172
  • J. Kappelman 1984 Plio-Pleistocene environments of Bed I and lower Bed II, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania Palaeo Palaeo Palaeo 48: 171-196 [Summarizes and compares different types of evidence, including rodents and bovids].
  • R. Potts 1988 Early Hominid Activities at Olduvai (Book on reserve in UGL library) [summarizes general setting of sites, and also focuses, in Chapter 7, on the use of large vertebrate remains to reconstruct the paleocommunities at Olduvai]
  • T.W. Plummer and L.C. Bishop 1994 Hominid paleoecology at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania as indicated by antelope remains Journal of Human Evolution 27: 47-75. [uses metric study of antelope metapodials to propose an alternative reconstruction to earlier work].
  • C. R. Peters and R. J. Blumenschine 1995 Landscape perspectives on possible land use pattterns for Early Pleistocene hominids in the Olduvai Basin, Tanzania Journal of Human Evolution 29: 321-362. [Develops a model of foraging opportunities for hominids on the lowermost Bed II paleolandscape at Olduvai.]
  • R.J. Blumenschine and C.R. Peters 1998 Archaeological predictions for hominid land use in the paleo-Olduvai basin, Tanzania, during lowermost Bed II times Tanzania Journal of Human Evolution 34: 565-607.

Thursday April 12

class cancelled

Tuesday April 17 (Olduvai summary due)

Hominid adaptation & speciation: debating the "Turnover Pulse Hypothesis" (e.g. Vrba & critique)

Come to class prepared to summarize Vrba's main hypotheses, and discuss what you see as strengths or weaknesses of the hypothesis.

Everyone read Vrba:

  • E.S. Vrba 1994
    Late Pliocene climatic events and hominid evolution, pp 405-426 in Integrative Paths to the Past (Corrucini and Ciochon, eds), Prentice Hall

Graduate students could also read:

  • E.S. Vrba 1995
    The fossil record of African antelopes (Mammalia, Bovidae) in relation to human evolution and paleoclimate. pp 385-424 in Paleoclimate and Evolution (E.S. Vrba, et al, eds) Yale U.P.

Thursday April 19

Come to class prepared to make the case for or against Vrba's hypothesis (e.g. come to class prepared for a debate), based on reading one of the following articles: (graduate students read both)

  • T.D. White 1995
    African omnivores: global climatic change and Plio-Pleistocene hominids and suids. pp 387-394 in Paleoclimate and Evolution (E.S. Vrba, et al, eds) Yale U.P. (book on reserve in Geography)
  • A.K. Behrensmeyer, et al. 1997
    Late Pliocene faunal turnover in the Turkana Basin, Kenya and Ethiopia Science 278: 1589-1594 (PDF )
  • R.A. Foley 1994
    Speciation, extinction and climatic change in hominid evolution Journal of Human Evolution 26: 275-289

Tuesday April 24

Macro or Micro? Evolutionary theory, climate, geography and hominids.

Everyone read the following two articles. Come to class prepared to compare these different perspectives on the evolution of hominids.

  • Potts, R.1998.
    Variability selection in hominid evolution. Evolutionary Anthropology:81-96.
    (or, alternatively, you could read the Potts 1998 article listed below, if you prefer)
  • Foley, R. 1999
    Evolutionary geography of Pliocene African hominids. pp 328-348 in T.G. Bromage and F. Schrenk (eds) African Biogeography, climate change & human evolution. New York Oxford University Press.

Graduate students could/should also read:

  • Potts, R. 1996.
    Evolution and climate variability. Science 273:922-923.
  • Potts, R. 1998
    Environmental hypotheses of hominin evolution. Yrbk. Phys. Anthr. 41: 93-136. (PDF)
    (This article has a succint overview of different methods, too, which you may find useful)

Extra Bibliography to help you start your research projects:

Coming soon, to a library near you:

T.G. Bromage and F. Schrenk (eds) 1999
African Biogeography, climate change & human evolution. New York Oxford University Press. (will be on reserve in Geography library)

Examples of other pollen studies from specific African sites:

  • Bonnefille, R. 1994 "Palynology and paleoenvironment of east Africa hominid sites" pp 415-427 in Integrative Paths to the Past. Paleoanthropological Advances in honor of F. Clark Howell. (R. Corruccini & R. Ciochan, eds) Prentice Hall.
  • R. Bonnefille 1983 Evidence for a cooler and drier climate in the Ethiopian highlands towards 2.5 myr ago Nature 303(9): 487-491.
  • R. Bonnefille, A. Vincens and G. Buchet 1987 Palynology, stratigraphy and paleoenvironment of a Pliocene hominid site (2.9-3.3 my) at Hadar, Ethiopia Palaeo Palaeo Palaeo 60 249-281.
  • J.S. Carion, et al 2000 Palynology and palaeo-environment of Pleistocene hyaena coprolites from an open-air site at Oyster Bay, Eastern Cape coast, South Africa. South African Journal of Science 96: 449-453. (PDF)

Examples of the long-term pollen record from Europe:

  • Woillard, G.M. 1978 Grande Pile peat bog: a continuous pollen record for the last 140,000 years. Quaternary Research 9:1-21.
  • Guiot, J. et al 1989 A 140,000 year continental climate reconstruction from two European climate records. Nature 338: 309-313
  • Guiot, J. et al 1993. The climate in western Europe during the last glacial/interglacial cycle derived from pollen and insect remains. Palaeo Palaeo Palaeo 103: 73-93.

Other interesting references on plants, paleosols, etc:

  • G.J. Retallack 1991 Miocene Paleosols and Ape Habitats of Pakistan and Kenya. Oxford Monographs of Geology and Geophysics no. 18. Oxford University Press.
  • Wang, Hong, Ambrose, Stanley H., Follmer, Leon R. 1997 Paleosol Stable Isotope Evidence for Early Hominid Occupation of East Asian Temperature Environments. Quaternary research. v 48 n 2: 228
  • Fox, Carles Lalueza , Juan, Jordi , Albert, Rosa, M. 1996 Phytolith Analysis on Dental Calculus, Enamel Surface, and Burial Soil: Information About Diet and Paleoenvironment. American journal of physical anthropology. SEP 01 1996 v 101 n 1 : 101

More references on plant food models:

  • Peters, C.R. and E. O’Brien 1981 The earliest hominid plant-food niche: insights from an analysis of plant exploitation by Homo, Pan and Papio in eastern and southern Africa. Current Anthropology 22(2): 127-140. (PDF)
  • Peters, C.R. 1987 Nut-like oil seeds: food for monkeys, chimpanzees, humans, and probably ape-men AJPA 73: 333-363

History of approach:

  • D. Western 1980 "Linking the ecology of past and present mammal communities" pp 41-54 in Fossils in the Making. Vertebrate Taphonomy and Paleoecology A.K. Behrensmeyer and A.P. Hill, eds. Chicago U.P.
  • M. Coe 1980 " The role of modern ecological studies in the reconstruction of paleoenvironments in sub-Saharan Africa pp 55-67 in Fossils in the Making. Vertebrate Taphonomy and Paleoecology A.K. Behrensmeyer and A.P. Hill, eds. Chicago U.P.
  • P.J. Jarman and A.R.E. Sinclair 1979 "Feeding strategy and the pattern of resource partitioning in ungulates" pp 130-163 in A.R.E. Sinclair and M. Norton-Griffiths Serengeti Dynamics of an Ecosystem Chicago U.P.
  • J.A.H. Van Couvering 1980 "Community evolution in East Africa during the Late Cenozoic" pp 272-298 in Fossils in the Making. Vertebrate Taphonomy and Paleoecology A.K. Behrensmeyer and A.P. Hill, eds. Chicago U.P.

Some references for ecological functional morphology (mostly for ungulates)
These studies can be grouped into three inter-related topics: Body Size; Feeding Morphology (e.g. teeth, etc), and Locomotor Morphology

  • Axmacher H and Hofmann R 1988 Morphological characteristics of the masseter muscle of 22 ruminant species J. Zool. Lond. 215: 463-473.
  • Boue, C. 1970 Morphologie functionelle des dents labials chez les ruminants Mammalia 34: 696-711
  • V. Eisenmann 1995 What metapodial morphometry has to say about some Miocene Hipparions In Paleoclimate and Evolution (Vrba et al, eds) : 148-163.
  • Janis, C.M. 1984 The use of fossil ungulate communities as indicators of climate and environments. In P. Benchley (ed) Fossils and Climate. New York: Wiley, pp 85-104.
  • Janis, C.M. 1990 Correlation of cranial and dental variables with body size in ungulates and cacropodoids. In J. Damuth and B. MacFadden (eds) Body Size in Mammalian Paleobiology CambridgeU.P. 255-300.
  • Kappelman, J. 1988 Morphology and locomotor adaptations of the bovid femur in relation to habitat. J. Morph. 198: 119-130
  • Kappelman, J. et al. 1997 Bovids as indicators of Plio-Pleistocene paleoenvironments in East Africa J. Human Evolution 32: 229-256.
  • Scott, K. M. 1985 Allometric trends and locomotor adaptations in the Bovidae Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 197: 197-288.
  • Spencer, L. M. 1997 Dietary adaptations of Plio-Pleistocene Bovidae: implications for hominid habitat use. Journal of Human Evolution 1997 32 n 2 / 3: 201-228.
  • Van Valkenburg, B. 1987 Skeletal indicators of locomotor behavior in living and extinct carnivores. J. Vert. Paleontol. 7: 162-182.

Diversity Indices

  • Mario Gagnon 1997
    Ecological diversity and community ecology in the Fayum sequence (Egypt)
    Journal of Human Evolution, Vol. 32, No. 2/3, Feb 1997, pp. 133-160

Stable isotopes from fauna (Tooth enamel)

  • Matt Sponheimer, Julia A. Lee-Thorp 1998
    Oxygen isotopes in enamel carbonate and their ecological significance Journal of Archaeological Science, Vol. 26, No. 6, Jun 1999, pp. 723-728

  • Thure E. Cerling et al 1997
    Dietary and environmental reconstruction with stable isotope analyses of herbivore tooth enamel from the Miocene locality of Fort Ternan, Kenya Journal of Human Evolution, Vol. 33, No. 6, Dec 1997, pp. 635-650

Diet: a direct link between environment and hominids?

Animal communities & hominid ecology: two South African case studies:

Makapansgat case study

  • Kaye Reed 1997
    Early hominid evolution and ecological change through the African Plio-Pleistocene. Journal of Human Evolution 1997 32: 289-322.

  • J.M. Maguire 1998
    Makapansgat. A guide to the palaeontological and archaeological sites of the Makapansgat Valley. (exerpts, pp 1-58)

  • Peters, C.R. and B. Maguire 1981
    Wild plant foods in the Makapansgat area: a modern ecosystem analogue for Australopithecus africanus adaptations Journal of Human Evolution 10: 565-583

  • M.S. Zavada and A. Cadman 1993
    Palynological investigations at the Makapansgat Limeworks: an australopithecine site. Journal of Human Evolution 25: 337-350.
  • Sponheimer-M; Lee-Thorp-JA 1999
    Isotopic evidence for the diet of an early hominid, Australopithecus africanus Science.1999 Jan 15; 283(5400): 368-70. PDF

  • Sponheimer, M., Reed, K.A., Lee-Thorp, J. 1999
    Combining isotopic and ecomorphological data to refine bovid paleodietary reconstruction: a case study from the Makapansgat Limeworks hominin locality Journal of Human Evolution 36(6): 705-718

Case study: Swartkrans Cave, South Africa

  • C.K. Brain 1993
    A taphonomic overview of the Swartkrans fossil assemblages pp 257-264 in Swartkrans: A Cave's Chroinicle of Early Man Transvaal Museum, Pretoria
  • C.K. Brain 1995
    The influence of climatic changes on the completeness of the early hominid record in southern African caves, with particular reference to Swartkrans pp 451-458 in Paleoclimate and Evolution (volume on reserve)
  • R.F. Kay and F.E. Grine 1988
    Tooth morphology, wear and diet in Australopithecus and Paranthropus from Southern Africa pp 427-447 in Evolutionary History of the Robust Australopithecines F.E. Grne (ed) Aldine de Gruyter
  • Lee-Thorp, J.A., Van der Merwe, N.J. and C.K. Brain 1994
    Diet of Australopithecus robustus at Swartkrans from stable carbon isotopic analysis JHE 27: 361-372
  • Sillen, A. 1992
    Strontium-calcium ratios (Sr/Ca) of Australopithecus robustus and associated fauna from Swartkrans JHE 23: 495-516
  • Sillen, A. Hall, G. and Armstrong, R. 1995
    Strontium calcium ratios (SrCa) and strontium isotopic ratios (87Sr/86Sr) of Australopithecus robustus and Homo sp. from Swartkrans. JHE MAR 01 1995 v 28 n
  • Thackeray, J.F. 1995
    Do strontium-calcium ratios in early Pleistocene hominids from Swartkrans reflect physiological differences in males and females? JHE 29: 401-404

Interesting site-specific case-studies

  • C. Marean 1992
    Implications of Late Quaternary mammalian fauna from Lukenya Hill (South-Central Kenya) for paleoenvironmental change and faunal extinctions. Quaternary Research 37: 239-255.
  • Hill 1995
    "Faunal and environmental change in the Neogene of East Africa: evidence from the Tugen Hills sequence, Baringo District, Kenya, pp 178-193 in Paleoclimate and Evolution with Emphasis on Human Origins (E.S. Vrba et al, eds) op cit.
  • Kuman, K., Inbar, M., Clarke, R.J. 1999
    Palaeoenvironments and Cultural Sequence of the Florisbad Middle Stone Age Hominid Site, South Africa. Journal of archaeological science. DEC 01 1999 v 26 n 12: 1409
  • Scott, R.S. , Kappelman, J. ,Kelley, J. 1999
    The paleoenvironment of Sivapithecus parvada. Journal of human evolution. MAR 01 1999 v 36 n 3 : 245

Forest refugia (e.g. in tropical Africa)?

  • Willis, K.J. Whittaker, R.J. 2000 Paleoecology: The Refugial Debate. Science. FEB 25 2000 v 287 n 5457 1406
  • Moore, Peter D.1998 Did forests survive the cold in a hotspot? Nature, 01/08/98, Vol. 391 Issue 6663, p124, 3p, 1 map, 1c
  • Maley, J. 1991. The African rain forest and palaeoenvironments during Late Quaternary: Climatic Change 19: 79-98.

Savanna theory:

  • S.M. Stanley 1992
    An ecological theory for the origin of Homo Paleobiology 18(3): 237-257.

Hominid morphological adaptations to climate:.

  • C.B. Ruff
    Climatic adaptation and hominid evolution: the thermoregulatory imperative Evolutionary Anthropology xx: 53-60.
  • Wheeler, P.E. 1993
    The influence of stature and body form on hominid energy and water budgets: a comparison of Australopithecus and early Homo physiques. J. Hum Evol. 24: 13-28.
  • McHenry, H.M. 1994
    Behavioral ecological implications of early hominid body size J. Hum Evol 27: 77-87.

Ecological models of modern human origins (bottlenecks and variability)
(tentative list)

  • Briffa, K.R., P.D. Jones, F.H. Schweingruber and T.J. Osborn, 1998
    "Influence of volcanic eruptions on northern hemisphere summer temperature over the past 600 years." Nature, Volume 393, pp. 450-455. 1998.

  • Stanley H. Ambrose 1998
    Late Pleistocene human population bottlenecks, volcanic winter, and differentiation of modern humans Journal of Human Evolution, Vol. 34, No. 6, Jun 1998, pp. 623-651

  • Sally McBrearty, Alison S. Brooks 2000 The revolution that wasn't: a new interpretation of the origin of modern human behavior JHE 39 (5): pp. 453-563

  • Curtis W. Marean 1997
    Hunter-Gatherer Foraging Strategies in Tropical Grasslands: Model Building and Testing in the East African Middle and Later Stone Age Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, Vol. 16, No. 3, Sep 1997, pp. 189-225

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Last updated: 15March, 2001

Copyright 2001 Jeanne Sept