Our species, and its ancestors of millions of years ago, evolved on the soils of Africa (Darwin 1872; Fleagle 1998). Many of those soils have been eroded or altered beyond recognition by deep burial, but many paleosols are buried within floodplain, volcanic, lacustrine, alluvial plain, and cave deposits of Africa (Retallack 2001a). These paleosols provide much of the colorful banding and mottling seen in East African badlands and dongas, including many fossil homi-noid localities (O Figure 13.1). Many fossils of human ancestors come from paleosols (Retallack et al. 1995, 2002; Radosevich et al. 1997; Wynn 2004a, b), which are also records of past environments of our evolutionary antecedents (O Figure 13.1). Modern soils are known to be products of environmental factors such as climate, vegetation, parent materials, topographic setting, and time for formation (Jenny 1941). These formative factors can be interpreted from fossil-iferous paleosols to provide hitherto unavailable details of the habitats of fossil apes and humans.
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O Figure 13.1
Localities for paleosol studies in East Africa
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