Savanna: a slow demise

Elaine Morgan (
Mon, 18 Sep 1995 20:34:53 GMT

JDMoore informs me that the savanna theory was already defunct in
the nineteen sixties, before I ever wrote a word about evolution
and I was too thick to realise it. Just a sprinkling of quotations:

1972. "Man made this change" (bipedalism) "as he adapted to a hunting
life on the hot savanna" ("The Imperial Animal," by Tiger and Fox)

1984 "The early hominids are thought to have inhabited the African
equatorial savannhs" (Peter Wheeler, J. Hum. Evol, 13, 91-98)

1985 "The descendants of a 40-50 kilogram ape ...were too heavy to
climb bushes when the forest gave way to savannah"" (Richard Leakey, in
the Sunday Times, nov. 17th)

1986. "The current explanation suggests that bipedalism evolved when
the gathering of plants for food became necessary in a drier savannah
habitat". (A.R, Sinclair and Mary Leakey, Nature, Nov. 27th)

1991. "Bipedalism could have evolved as a response to the physiological
rather than behavioural challenges presented by this new environment. A
major problem on the open equatorial savannah is hyperthermia..." (Peter
Wheeler, J. Hum. Evol, 21. 117-36)

1993. "The first savannah apes are likely to have been generalists of a
similar type to modern chimps"......"Resilience and abundance - these
were the likely attributes of the first apes that moved into the
savannahs". "Self-made Man" by Jonathan Kingdon.

1993. "Hunt exposes the fallacy of assuming that hominid bipedalism
was an adaptation to a savannah environment". Nature, June 17th, p 588.

The savannah Theory is dead, but it did not end in the sixties, and it
was an unconscionable time a-dying. Even up to less than a year ago,
though the song may have ended, the melody lingered on.