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Understanding of Primate Socio-Ecology and Making Inferences from the Fossil Record Essay

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Updated: Jan 13th, 2022

Introduction

Anthropologists are able to uncover the socio-ecological setting of past societies by studying the fossils. From simple analysis of cranial structure, body size, tooth shape among other aspects, they are able to reconstruct the ecological and social composition of the past hominids and make inferences that facilitate the comprehension of the societies (Boyd and Silk, p. 45). This paper seeks to reconstruct the social ecological setting of Praeanthropus monomorphicus and Praeanthropus dimorphicus that I hypothetically found in Kenya. Such factors of comparison will include the habitat, mating system, group size, and territoriality.

Main Discusion

Having an opportunity to discover the fossils of primates in Kenya, praenthropus dimorphicus dental shape and other aspects reflect their dietary habits. Despite the prevalent notion that the hominids thrived on diet that was hard, the fossils discovered of Praeanthropus dimorphicus contrast sharply. At the outset, their thin enamel and shearing crest explain that the species were not adapted to feed on hard foods such as hard nuts (Boyd and Silk, p. 76). Besides, their mandible structure that depicts shearing crests and high cusps on their molars says that the hominids were adapted to soft fruit eating. The remains of zebras and wildebeests depict predation by the species. This implies that they were not only fruit eaters but they also supplemented their diets with meat (Boyd and Silk, p. 93). The presence of variety of food could have led to the relatively high body mass. To some extents, this characterizes omnivorous dietary adaptations.

On the other hand, Praeanthropus monomorphicus had huge molars showing an adaptation towards eating hard food such as nuts. With low rounded cusps and thick enamel, Praeanthropus monomorphicus was adapted towards ensuring that they could consume and mechanically break very hard foods and nuts. Boyd and Silk say that such characteristics were typical of arboreal monkeys and apes whose diets consisted of fruits (p. 67). Besides, their body size tends to suggest limited variety of food. As such, they are herbivorous in the nutritional habits (Boyd and Silk 49).Their adaptations are inclined towards low food presence and lack of supplementary diet.

Evidently, the habitat of the two species contrasts largely. First, praenthropus dimorphicus portrays signs of large group size and consequent presence of other animal species. Besides, their mandibles reflect high variety of food that reflects an extensive ecological habitat (Groves, p. 183). This is also an indication of their high number of fossils implying huge number of the species occupied the region.

Conversely, Praeanthropus monomorphicus are small. I also found few numbers of fossils of the hominid. Their dietary adaptations show dependence of single diet consisting of hard nuts. The habitat lacks diversity of species and consequent predators. Ecologically, this type of species could be found in rainforests. Variety of food sources is a huge factor that could determines the size of the group. As such, the Praeanthropus monomorphicus seems to be in lower numbers than the Praeanthropus dimorphicus. This is due to the availability of substantial food for the former as opposed to the latter.

According to Groves, various factors contribute to the evolution of mating systems (p. 107). In particular, sexual selection and ecological factors shape the mating systems of various species. For praeanthropus dimorphicus, the ratio of body mass of males to females’ body size is 1.5. This shows high sexual dimorphism that implies intense mating competition (Boyd and Silk, p. 35). In fact, they depict a polygynous mating system where a single male controls high numbers of the female species. Praeanthropus monomorphicus species have equal sizes for both males and females. This shows lesser sexual dimorphism than the previous species (Boyd and Silk, p. 76). This is typical of monogamous mating system where the size is not a huge factor in sexual section. This is also a characteristic of low competition amongst themselves for mating partners.

Boyd and Silk claim that body size is a critical aspect of territoriality (p. 67). Praeanthropus dimorphucus are gigantic in size and possess the characteristic of polygynous mating system (Groves, p. 97). As such, they are bound to have an increased territory as opposed to Praeanthropus monomorphicus. Besides, the former fossils were found in a centralized location implying high level of territoriality control. Praeanthropus monomorphicus are small and consequently can not command a huge territory. This could have been due to their low levels of predatory abilities (Boyd and Silk, p. 76).

Conclusion

Essentially, it is possible to reconstruct the socio-ecological past of specific fossils. Through the analysis of fossils and their aspects, anthropologists are able to unravel the probable social and environment conditions (Groves, p. 93). Praeanthropus monomorphicus have huge and relatively flat molars that depict their adaptation towards hard foods. Praeanthropus dimorphicus has mandible adapted for softer foods as well as meat. Their huge body size is indicative of high presence of food, predation, and polygnous mating systems. This is also a characteristic of increased territoriality. Praeanthropus monomorphicus, on the other hand, has monogamous mating system that also depicts the reduced territoriality and limited diet and sources of food (Boyd and Silk, p. 76).

Works Cited

  1. Boyd, Robert and Silk, Joan. How Hymans Evolved. London: Sage Publishers, 2010. Print.
  2. Groves, Carter. Mammal Species of the World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005. Print.
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IvyPanda. "Understanding of Primate Socio-Ecology and Making Inferences from the Fossil Record." January 13, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/understanding-of-primate-socio-ecology-and-making-inferences-from-the-fossil-record/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Understanding of Primate Socio-Ecology and Making Inferences from the Fossil Record." January 13, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/understanding-of-primate-socio-ecology-and-making-inferences-from-the-fossil-record/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Understanding of Primate Socio-Ecology and Making Inferences from the Fossil Record'. 13 January.

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