The late Miocene-Pliocene emergence of the Hominini coincides with considerable mammalian faunal turnover in Africa, including the endemic radiation of groups such as ruminants, suids, and cercopithecids; the first appearance through immigration of taxa such as Equus and Giraffa; the demise of previously successful groups such as anthracotheres; and, overall, an increased representation of taxa adapted to more open savanna-mosaic environments. Most, if not all, of the major taxonomic events for the tribe occur in Africa, including the emergence of our own species. Only two hominin species (from one eurytopic genus) are found entirely outside Africa (Homo neanderthalensis and Homo floresiensis), and all hominins are restricted to the continent until just under two million years ago. The principal adaptive changes of the tribe also occur in Africa. Early hominins are distinguished by a suite of postcranial features showing reliance on terrestrial bipedalism. By the late Pliocene (and possibly sooner), these adaptations gave hominins one of the most efficient forms of locomotion of all mammals. This chapter describes the systematic paleontology of Hominini.
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