Just out @ Historical Biology
It has long been accepted that hominids emerged during the Pliocene in a savannah environment in which a terrestrial quadruped gradually developed bipedal adaptations. However, data from the Late Miocene (i.e. 7–7.5 Ma), including detailed palaeontological and biogeochemical studies, suggest that our earliest Upper Miocene ancestors inhabited well-wooded to forested environments where they could have spent a certain amount of time in the trees. A plausible type of ecosystem in which upright posture and bipedal locomotion could have emerged is represented by Miombo Woodland, in which vertical arboreal supports predominate and trees are separated from each other by gaps. Subsequently hominids dispersed into the Savannah as accomplished bipeds, but retained the ability to climb trees. This scenario is compatible with the postcranial anatomy of Australopithecus, including its femoral elongation, body proportions, manual precision grip (also present in 6-million-year-old Orrorin) and a non-prehensile hallux.
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