Human Evolution

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 1–20

Uplift of the roof of africa and its bearing on the evolution of mankind

  • M. Pickford
Article
  • 33 Downloads

Abstract

Evidence concerning the geomorphological evolution of the Western Rift Valley, sedimentation within the valley and comparison of the fossil mammalian faunas of Western Uganda and East Africa indicate that the mountain ranges which now flank the Western Rift were uplifted in three or more stages beginning during the upper Miocene and that they reached climatically important altitudes during the upper Pliocene, at which time they began to modify regional climatic patterns in East Africa. Their main effect was the xerification of conditions over much of the region east of the mountains. The regional climatic effects due to the mountain ranges were themselves modified by global climatic changes related to the onset of the Glacial Period, the two phenomena combining to yield the Present day climatic regime of East Africa. As the climate changed, so did the flora and fauna. Faunal response was of three main kinds: a) dispersal into East Africa of pre-existing forms already adapted to more xeric conditions (many bovids, some cercopithecids), b) autochthonous evolution of forms adapted to mesic environments into forms adapted to more xeric conditions (suids, elephantids, some bovids, hominids), c) displacement of species ranges of those lineages unable to adapt to changing conditions (i.e. local extinctions) (Anancus, Brachypotherium). Autochthonous evolvers, including hominids, adopted two main strategies reflected in their hard anatomy: a) dietary shift (suids, proboscideans, bovids and later Pliocene hominids) and b) locomotor changes (early Pliocene hominids).

Key words

Geomorphology Palaeoclimatology hominid evolution East Africa Western Rift Valley evolutionary strategies 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Andrews P. & Van Couvering J., 1975.Palaeoenvironments in the East African Miocene. In: F. Szalay (ed.), Approaches to Primate Paleobiology Contrib. Primat., 5: 62–103.Google Scholar
  2. Bishop W.W., 1969.Pleistocene stratigraphy in Uganda, Mem. Geol., Surv. Uganda, 10: 1–128.Google Scholar
  3. Bishop, W.W., 1971.The late Cenozoic history of East Africa in relation to hominoid evolution. In: K. Turekian (ed.), The late Cenozoic Glacial Ages Yale, Yale Univ. Press, 493–527.Google Scholar
  4. Bishop W.W. &Trendall A.F., 1967.Erosion surfaces, tectonics and volcanic activity in Uganda. Quart. Jl geol. Soc. London, 122: 385–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bonnefille R., 1976. In: Y. Coppens, F.C. Howell, G. Isaac and R. Leakey (eds.),Earliest Man and environments in the Lake Rudolf Basin Chicago. Chicago Univ. Press.Google Scholar
  6. Brown J.M., 1956.Oil in Uganda. Mem. Geol. Surv. Uganda, 9: 1–33.Google Scholar
  7. Brown F. &Feibel C., 1986.Revision of lithostratigraphic nomenclature in the Koobi Fora region, Kenya. Jl Geol. Soc. London, 143: 297–310.Google Scholar
  8. Cooke H.B.S., 1958.Observations relating to Quaternary environment in east and southern Africa. Geol. Soc. S. Afr. Annex, 60: 1–73.Google Scholar
  9. Coppens, Y., 1982.Les plus anciens fossiles d'hominidés. Pontific. Acad. Sci. Script Var. 50: 1–9.Google Scholar
  10. Coppens, Y., 1984.Hominoïdés, Hominidés et Hommes. La Vie des Sciences. C.R. Sér. gén. 1(5): 459–486.Google Scholar
  11. Coppens, Y., 1986.Evolution de l'Homme. La VIe des Sciences. C.R. Sér. gén. 3(3): 227–243.Google Scholar
  12. Coppens, Y., 1988.Les vicissitudes de l'évolution humaine. Bull. Acad. Natl. Méd. 172(9): 1289–1296.Google Scholar
  13. De Heinzelin J., 1955.Le fossé tectonique sous le paralèlle d'Ishango. Mission J. de Heinzelin, Vol. 1, Brussels, Inst. Parcs Natl Congo Belge.Google Scholar
  14. De Heinzelin J., 1959.Les formations du Western Rift et de la Cuvette Congolaise. IVe Congr. Panafr. Préhist., 1–23.Google Scholar
  15. De Heinzelin J., 1963.Palaeoecological conditions of the Lake Albert-Lake Edward rift. In: African ecology and human evolution. F.C. Howell and F. Bourliere (eds.). Chicago, Aldine, 276–284.Google Scholar
  16. Ebinger C. (in press).Tectonic development of the western branch of the east African Rift System.Google Scholar
  17. Flint R.F., 1959.On the basis of Pleistocene correlation in East Africa. Geol. Mag., 96: 265–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gautier A., 1965.Relative dating of peneplains and sediments in the Albert Rift. Am. Jl. Sci., 263: 537–547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gautier A., 1965.Geological investigation in the Sinda-Mohari (Ituri, NE Congo). Publ. Ganda-Congo, State Univ. Gent, 1965: 1–161.Google Scholar
  20. Gautier A., 1970.Fossil freshwater mollusca of the Lake Edward-Lake Albert Rift. Ann. Mus. R. Afr. Centr. Tervuren, 67: 1–144.Google Scholar
  21. Gautier A. & Lepersonne L., 1970.Stratigraphic terminology. In: A. Gautier (ed.). Ann. Mus. R.Afr. Centr. Tervuren, 67: 8–11.Google Scholar
  22. Hooijer D.A., 1963.Miocene Mammalia of Congo. Ann. Mus. R. Afr. Centr. Tervuren, 46: 1–77.Google Scholar
  23. Hopwood A.T. &Lepersonne J., 1953.Présence de formations d'âge miocène inférieur dans le fossé tectonique du Lac Albert et de la Basse Semliki (Congo Belge). Ann. Soc. Géol. Belg., 77: 83–113.Google Scholar
  24. Kendall R.L., 1969.An ecological history of the Lake Victoria basin. Ecol. Monogr., 39: 121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. King B.C., 1970.Vulcanicity and rift tectonics in East Africa. In: African magmatism and tectonics. Edinburgh, Oliver and Boyd, 263–283.Google Scholar
  26. Lepersonne J., 1949.Le fossé tectonique Lac Albert-Semliki-Lac Edouard. Ann. Soc. Géol. Belg., 62: 1–92.Google Scholar
  27. Lepersonne J., 1963.Western Rift Localities. In: D.A. Hooijer, Miocene Mammalia of Congo. Ann. Mus. R. Afr-Centr. Tervuren, 46: 6–13.Google Scholar
  28. MacDonald R., 1965.The status of Rift Valley studies in Uganda. Rep. UMC/UNESCO Seminar on the E. Afr. Rift System (Nairobi), 52.Google Scholar
  29. Miller K.S. &Fairbanks R.G., 1985.Cainozoic d18O record of climate and sea level. S. Afr. Jl. Sci., 81: 248–249.Google Scholar
  30. Pickford M., 1982.The tectonics, volcanics and sediments of the Nyanza Rift Valley, Kenya. Z. Geomorph. N.F., 42: 1–33.Google Scholar
  31. Pickford M., 1986.Sedimentation and fossil preservation in the Nyanza Rift System, Kenya In: Frostick L.et al. (eds.). Sedimentation in the African rifts. Geol. Soc. London. Spec. Publ., 25: 345–362.Google Scholar
  32. Pickford M., 1987.Implications of the Albertine (Uganda) fossil mollusc sequence. C.R. Acad. Sci. Paris, 305: 317–322.Google Scholar
  33. Pickford M., 1988.Major changes in the evolution of primate neurocrania. Human Evol. 3: 449–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pickford M., 1989.The Neogene Anthracotheriidae of Africa: a revision. Symp. Geol. Libya, 3.Google Scholar
  35. Pickford M., Senut B., Ssemmanda I., Elepu D. &Obwona P., 1988.Premiers résultats de la mission de l'Uganda Palaeontology Expedition à Nkondo. C.R. Acad. Sci. Paris, 306: 315–320.Google Scholar
  36. Potter B., 1986.The allometry of primate skeletal weight. Int. Jl. Primatol, 7: 457–466.Google Scholar
  37. Senut B., Pickford M., Ssemmanda I., Elepu D. &Obwona P., 1987.Découverte du premier Homininae (Homo sp.)dans le Pléistocène de Nyabusosi (Ouganda Occidental). C.R. Acad. Sci. Paris, 305: 819–822.Google Scholar
  38. Shipman P., Potts R. &Pickford M., 1983.Lainyamok, a new middle Pleistocene hominid site. Nature, 305: 365–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Soloman J.D., 1939.The Pleistocene succession in Uganda. In: T.P. O'Brien (ed.). The Prehistory of Uganda Protectorate. Cambridge, Cambridge Univ. Press 15.Google Scholar
  40. Wayland E.J., 1925.Petroleum in Uganda. Geol. Surv. Uganda Mem., 1: 1–61.Google Scholar
  41. Wayland E.J., 1926.Geology and Palaeontology of the Kaiso Bone Bed. Occas. Pap. Geol. Surv. Uganda, 2: 1–70.Google Scholar
  42. Wayland E.J., 1934.Rifts, rivers, rains and early man in Uganda. Jl. Roy. Anthropol. Inst., 64: 333–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Williamson P., 1985.Evidence for an early Plio-Pleistocene rainforest expansion in East Africa. Nature, 315: 487–489.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Editrice Il Sedicesimo 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Pickford
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut de PaléontologieParis

Personalised recommendations