Correlates and catalysts of hominin evolution in Africa  -- Jeffrey K McKee, 2017


Hominin evolution in the African Pliocene and Pleistocene was accompanied and mediated by changes in the abiotic and biotic spheres.  It has been hypothesized that such environmental changes were catalysts of hominin morphological evolution and speciations.   Whereas there is little doubt that ecological changes were relevant to shaping the trajectories of mammalian evolution, testing specific hypotheses with data from the fossil record has yielded ambiguous results regarding environmental disruption as a primary catalyst.  Proposed mechanisms for abiotic and biotic causes of evolution are not always consistent with the timing and trends exhibited by the African fossil record of hominins and other mammals.  Analyses of fossil and genetic data suggest that much of hominin evolution, and by extension mammalian evolution, was autocatalytic, driven by feedback loops within a species or lineage, irrespective of changes in the external environment.



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