Finale and future

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The East African Plio-Pleistocene fossil record is important both for understanding diversification, extinction, and ancestor–descendent relationships among extinct and living African mammals and for investigating the interaction of environmental change and evolution. The 2004 Workshop on Faunal Evidence for Hominin Paleoecology at the Smithsonian Institution focused on the second of these research themes, bringing together a multi-national group of 44 professionals and students for in-depth discussion about how the East African mammalian faunal record can be used to reconstruct the changing paleoecological context of the hominins during their time of major diversification from late Miocene to early Pleistocene. Many of the contributions to this volume originated as papers presented at a 2003 American Association of Physical Anthropologists symposium in Tempe, Arizona, organized by Bobe, Alemseged, and Behrensmeyer. These contributions evolved as a consequence of the discussions at the Smithsonian workshop, taking on broader issues and adapting to a wide range of ideas and concerns expressed by the participants.