Ecological Morphology of Australopithecus afarensis

Traveling Terrestrially, Eating Arboreally
  • Kevin D. Hunt

Abstract

Kinzey (1976, 1977, 1978) was quick to appreciate the utility of integrating systematic ecological research with study of positional behavior and morphology, a synthetic area of scholarly pursuit now distinguished by its own appellation, ecological morphology (Wainwright and Riley, 1994). Primatologists so often focus on food and food-gathering behaviors as keys to understanding primate anatomy because primate activity budgets are dominated by feeding. Across habitats ranging from thicket woodland to closed canopy forest, chimpanzees consistently dedicate half of their activity budget to feeding (Table 1). The next most common activity, “resting,” might as well be called “digesting.” As a simplifying first-assumption, an ecological perspective takes the view that the hominoid body is a food-getting machine, and ignores the presumably lesser selective roles played by intraspecific aggression and predator avoidance (though predation may be more important for smaller primates: van Schaik, 1983; van Schaik and van Hooff, 1983; van Schaik et al., 1983a, b; van Schaik and van Noordwijk, 1989). This view holds as significant the rarity of predation on hominoids (Cheney and Wrangham, 1986), and that intraspecific agonism is less a threat to survival than is starvation.

Keywords

Large Male Terminal Branch Small Male Social Rank Early Hominid 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin D. Hunt
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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