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Am J Primatol. 1998;46(1):85-101.

Shadows on a changing landscape: comparing nesting patterns of hominids and chimpanzees since their last common ancestor.

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Anthropology Department, Indiana University, Bloomington 47405, USA.


Studying the evolution of nesting behavior within the human-chimpanzee clade is problematic because evidence is sparse and difficult to interpret. Lacking a fossil or archaeological record for proto-chimpanzees, reconstructions of the antecedents of modern chimp nesting patterns can be reconstructed only from careful studies of variation in current chimpanzee and bonobo nesting patterns within the context of spatial and temporal landscape parameters. The ethology of nesting also provides an important frame of reference for reconstructions of early hominid nesting behavior. If the contemporary contrast between human and chimpanzee nesting patterns is seen as an evolutionary dichotomy, then African prehistoric landmarks that mark the origin of this split might include bipedalism and the origins of the hominidae, the first stone tools and the origins of Homo, the developmental and behavioral adaptations of Homo ergaster, shifts in Late Acheulian settlement patterns, and the origins of anatomically modern humans and the Middle Stone Age. The issue of whether Early Stone Age archaeological sites were used for nesting is unresolved because potential markers of such behavior, such as hearths, structures, or bedding, are not unambiguously recognizable in the archaeological record until the Middle Stone Age.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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