Ancient ape-men lived near quake regions

2011-03-04 22:58

Cape Town - Our earliest ancestors liked living in areas where the earth moved, according to the findings of an international team of scientists.

In a paper published in the latest issue of the Journal of Human Evolution, lead author and Wits palaeoanthropologist Dr Sally Reynolds said the landscapes created around tectonic fault zones were favoured by ancient ape-man, including southern Africa's Australopithecines.

Titled Landscapes and their Relation to Hominin Habitats: Case Studies from Australopithecus sites in Eastern and Southern Africa, the paper says such sites were "often on active tectonic faults in areas that have an earthquake risk or volcanoes, or both".

In a statement on Friday, the University of the Witwatersrand said a four-year study - by Reynolds, Prof Geoff Bailey (University of New York) and Prof Geoffrey King (Institut de Physique Du Globe, Paris) - had examined landscapes around ancient southern African sites.

It quotes Reynolds as saying the team was "stunned" by the similarity of landscape features at different hominin sites.

Scientific evidence

"We were stunned when... Professor King and I discovered evidence that hominin sites such as Taung, Sterkfontein and Makapansgat, show landscape features in combinations that are not random, but result from tectonic motions, such as earthquakes."

Scientific evidence suggested that Australopithecus africanus, like the "Mrs Ples" fossil from Sterkfontein, was adapted to mixed, or mosaic habitats - landscapes with trees and open grassland, with some wetland marshy areas.

The study suggests this type of landscape was created by tectonic earth movements near rivers or lakes.

"These features - including cliffs, sedimented valleys, river gorges and drier plateau areas in close proximity of about 10km - are created when sections of the earth's crust move in response to pressure, then blocks of land are lifted up, while others are forced downward."

Reynolds said our hominin ancestors would have been unaware of the tectonic influence on their habitats, but instead would have been attracted by the range of food and shelter they offered.

"The combination of drinking water, steep cliffs that provided shelter from predators, together with a range of feeding sources constitute the key ingredients for an ideal habitat for our ancestors," she said.

- SAPA

Read more on:    palaeontology
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
10 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

ANCYL: Not voting would be blasphemy

Not voting in the forthcoming elections would be blasphemy, the ANCYL says in a statement commemorating the 50th anniversary of struggle icon Nelson Mandela's Rivonia trial speech.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold 9790

Bold Design The BlackBerry Bold 9790 smartphone combines the iconic BlackBerry...

From R2979.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be good at organising events but they do take their toll on your energy levels. You may need some time out today just to...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.