Verhaegen, M., Munro, S., Vaneechoutte, M., Bender-Oser, N., Bender, R. (2007). THE ORIGINAL ECONICHE OF THE GENUS HOMO: OPEN PLAIN OR WATERSIDE?.
That humans evolved as a result of a move from forests to more open plains is still the prevailing paradigm in anthropology, and researchers often assume that this transition influenced the origins of human bipedalism, omnivory, tool use, large brains, and even speech. Here, we argue that there are no scientific grounds on which to base such a hypothesis. While we agree that Homo may have evolved in more open (tree-poor) habitats than other apes (which could account for our relatively poor climbing skills), the suggestion that humans shifted to drier habitats away from water is, according to our research, unproven. We propose instead a more parsimonious model compatible with all known data and corroborated by a number of independent sources of evidence. Comparisons of the locomotor styles and nutritional requirements of extant species and anatomical comparisons of fossil and extant species including Homo sapiens, especially in combination with palaeoecological data, strongly suggest that early Homo evolved at the waters edge (whether in savannahs or elsewhere) where resources essential for brain growth were both abundant and easily procurable by a thick-enameled tool-using omnivorous hominid.