Re: Savanna: a slow demise

Alex Duncan (
26 Sep 1995 00:58:15 GMT

In article <> Bryce Harrington,

>I've been watching things here on the net for about three years, and I
>only started seeing the "death of the savannah theory" comments within
>the last year or so - since Tim White's 1994 article about his find.
>In fact, the new theory doesn't even have a catch-phrase yet, though
>I've seen it referred to as the "mosaic" theory. I don't know where
>Moore is coming from; it sounds as if he's just trying to incite things.

I have yet to read Mr. Moore's response to this, so forgive me if we
cover the same ground (sounds like some repetition couldn't hurt here).

If you only noted the "death of the savanna" last year, then you haven't
been paying attention, or your reading has been restricted to entry level
texts. The savanna has been dying at least since the early '70s (I
expect J Moore will say earlier than that). In my mind the death of the
savanna begins w/ the discovery and analysis of A. afarensis and its
habitats. By the mid 1980's several points had become obvious:

1) A. afarensis (and probably later australopithecines as well as Homo
habilis) retained features that would have been adaptive in an arboreal
2) Many of the fossil localities where early hominids are found show
evidence such as arboreal pollen and tree-going mammals (e.g., giraffes,
galagos, colobus monkeys).

Alex Duncan
Dept. of Anthropology
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712-1086