Fossil Soils and Grasses of a Middle Miocene East African Grassland

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Science  16 Mar 1990:
Vol. 247, Issue 4948, pp. 1325-1328
DOI: 10.1126/science.247.4948.1325


Fossil soils and grasses from the well-known Miocene mammal locality of Fort Ternan, southwestern Kenya, are evidence of a mosaic of grassy woodland and wooded grassland some 14 million years ago. This most ancient wooded grassland yet known on the African continent supported more abundant and diverse antelopes than known earlier in Africa. Ape fossils at Fort Ternan, including Kenyapithecus wickeri, were associated with woodland parts of the vegetation mosaic revealed by paleosols. Grassland habitats were available in East Africa long before the evolutionary divergence of apes and humans some 5 to 10 million years ago.

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