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Academic & Professional Books  Evolutionary Biology  Human Evolution & Anthropology

Only in Africa The Ecology of Human Evolution

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By: Norman Owen-Smith(Author)
Only in Africa
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  • Only in Africa ISBN: 9781108959667 Paperback Oct 2021 Usually dispatched within 6 days
    £34.99
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  • Only in Africa ISBN: 9781108832595 Hardback Oct 2021 Usually dispatched within 6 days
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About this book

That humans originated from Africa is well-known. However, this is widely regarded as a chance outcome, dependant simply on where our common ancestor shared the land with where the great apes lived. This volume builds on the 'Out of Africa' theory and takes the view that it is only in Africa that the evolutionary transitions from a forest-inhabiting frugivore to a savanna-dwelling meat-eater could have occurred. Only in Africa argues that the ecological circumstances that shaped these transitions are exclusive to Africa. It describes distinctive features of the ecology of Africa, with emphasis on savanna grasslands, and relates them to the evolutionary transitions linking early ape-men to modern humans. It shows how physical features of the continent, especially those derived from plate tectonics, set the foundations. This volume adequately conveys that we are here because of the distinctive features of the ecology of Africa.

Contents

Preface
Foreword
List of abbreviations

Part I. The physical cradle: Land forms, geology, climate, hydrology and soils
1. High Africa: Eroding surfaces
2. Climate: Rainfall seasonality
3. Water in rivers, lakes and wetlands
4. Bedrock geology: Volcanic influences
5. Soils: Foundations of fertility

Part II. The savanna garden: Grassy vegetation and plant dynamics
6. Forms of savannah
7. How savanna trees and grasses grow and compete
8. Plant demography and dynamics: Fire traps
9. Paleo-savannas: Expanding grasslands

Part III. The big mammal menagerie: Herbivores, carnivores and their ecosystem impacts
10. Niche distinctions: resources versus risks
11. Big fierce carnivores: Hunting versus scavenging
12. Herbivore abundance: Bottom-up and top-down
13. How large herbivores transform savanna ecosystems
14. Paleo-faunas: Rise and fall of the biggest grazers

Part IV. Evolutionary transitions: From primate ancestors to modern humans
15. Primate predecessors: From trees to ground
16. Primate ecology: From forests into savannas
17. How an ape became a hunter
18. Cultural evolution: From tools to art and genes
19. Reticulate evolution through turbulent times
20. Prospects for a lonely planet

Index

Customer Reviews

Biography

Norman Owen-Smith headed the Centre for African Ecology at the University of the Witwatersrand before his retirement as Emeritus Professor there. He is an A-rated scientist and Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa. He received Gold Medals from the Zoological Society of Southern Africa and the South African Association for the Advancement of Science, Wildlife Excellence Award from the Southern African Wildlife Management Association, Honorary Life Membership in the Ecological Society of America, and was awarded a Harry Oppenheimer Fellowship in 2005. He has written or edited six books, including Megaherbivores: The Influence of Very Large Body Size on Ecology (Cambridge, 1988) and Adaptive Herbivore Ecology: From Resources to Populations in Variable Environments (Cambridge, 2002).

New
By: Norman Owen-Smith(Author)
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