..new evidence has come to light that suggests the former might be more likely. Husband and wife team Royhan and Nahid Gani have been studying the sediments surrounding the place where Ardipithecus ramidus, aka, "Ardi," was found in Ethiopia, and have, as they describe in their paper published in Nature Communications, found that most of the evidence in the area points to a group of people that lived near a very large river.
Ardi is believed to have lived some four and half million years ago in what is now Aramis, a hot and dry part of Ethiopia, but until now, no serious study had been done on the dirt in which the skeletal remains were found. After doing so, the Gani’s discovered that the dirt was actually layers of sandstone that appear most likely to have been the result of an ancient stream overflowing it’s banks periodically, leaving behind layers of sand. Branching out, the team discovered that the sediments indicated that such a stream was actually a river, likely twenty six feet deep and over twelve hundred feet wide.African Porcupine?), the remnants are likely to be scattered, and even dissolved by the acids in soils. River Sediments, which can bury a corpse quickly, and keep the bones together and away from scavengers, and the soil microbes, are much better at preserving fossils.
Next they turned their attention to plant material that had been preserved in the sandstone, measuring their isotopes, and found that the material had come from grassy plants, suggesting a savannah type environment. But once again, widening their area of study, they also found that there were wide changes in the types of plant material in the area. This caused them to surmise that there were patches of forests near the rivers and streams.Of course, living by the streams in Africa has some disadvantages as well, like crocodiles...
My thanks to the indefatigable Socho-Wombat for including this in this weeks massive Rule 5 post over at The Other McCain.
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