Man, Culture, and Environment

  • Phillip V. Tobias


Hominid evolution is here considered from an ecological and behavioral standpoint and not morphologically or taxonomically. Three phases are recognized: (1) hominidization (emergence of Hominidae) in the upper Miocene; (2) hominization in the late Pliocene (3–2 m. y.; and (3) later hominization, essentially in the Pleistocene. In stage 1, the hominids arise in a cooling and drying Africa, marked by retreat of forests and spread of savanna. The fauna and flora are undergoing major changes, among which hominids appear. The environment is physical and biotic; of cultural factors there is no evidence.

In stage 2 further physical and biotic changes occur: opening of the savanna goes further, flora and fauna change—including the emergence of advanced Australopithecus africanus, the splitting of the hominid lineage and the appearance of Homo habilis. The earliest stone tools are found. The environment of stage 2 is not only physical and biotic, but also cultural.

Stage 3 is marked by an increasing dependence of the several species of Homo upon culture as a strategy for survival and adaptation.

The incorporation of cultural factors into the set of strategies available to the hominids is a major change in the means of survival and adaptation. It enhances the flexibility of adaptive responses and widens the range of econiches open to humankind.


Stone Tool Early Hominid Genus Homo Hominid Evolution Stone Culture 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Tokyo 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Phillip V. Tobias
    • 1
  1. 1.Palaeo-Anthropology Research Unit, Department of Anatomy and Human BiologyUniversity of the WitwatersandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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