Re: Who Killed the Australopithecines?

1 Apr 1995 22:04:57 GMT

Re: BARD's comments.

He's making the assumption that evolution is directional. A bit silly. It
would just as appropriate to ask what killed off H. erectus. H. erectus
survived (with no directionality in terms of feature evolution) for about
1.7 MY, a long survival period for a species. The australopithecines were
also very successful and stable in their niches. The answer is probably a
combination of competition and niche contraction. A. species were
dependent on trees. H. erectus was adapted to the hot savanna and lacked
the climbing adaptations seen in A. species and in H. habilis. If there
was a major contraction in the area of the wooded savanna around 1.9 MY BP
with an increase in the unwooded areas, we would expect to see the pattern
of replacement we actually see.

Harry Erwin
Doctoral student in computational neuroscience