Dating early hominids
"This is a huge development in African paleoanthropology and a welcome change in the conduct of this science. This is an example of how that has paid off scientifically, for Africa and for Ethiopia." Clark and Howell are professors emeriti of anthropology at UC Berkeley and among the most respected anthropologists working in Africa during the past century.
The region was further showered by pulses of thick and hot volcanic ashes from nearby volcanoes."It is hard to imagine that life would go on normally under such hostile environmental conditions," Wolde Gabriel said."Ardipithecus and the other animals inhabiting the area were real survivors." The forested upland where Ardipithecus lived was up to 1,500 meters higher in elevation, and cooler, wetter, and more forested."The expectation was that we would find hominids in savanna grassland sites that date back to about eight million years ago," Ambrose said. All older hominids have been found in forested environments." These findings require fundamental reassessment of models that ascribe the origin of hominids to global climatic change or as an adaptation to conditions of a savanna habitat, according to the researchers.They suggest, instead, that all known earliest hominids derived from relatively wet and wooded environments and did not venture into more open savanna settings until after 4.4 million years ago - about the time Australopithecus made its appearance and long after hominids and chimpanzees split from their common ancestor.