Quote: Dart on the savanna model

Raymond Dart (p. 198 of Australopithecus africanus, the man-ape of South Africa, Nature 115:195-199, 1925), summing up why hominids might have lived in what seemed "harsh and forbidding" environments for a primate:

In anticipating the discovery of the true links between the apes and man in tropical countries, there has been a tendency to overlook the fact that in the luxuriant forests of the tropical belts, Nature was supplying with profligate and lavish hand an easy and sluggish solution, by adaptive specialization, of the problem of existence in creatures so well equipped mentally as living anthropoids are. For the production of man a different apprenticeship was needed to sharpen the wits and quicken the higher manifestations of intellect -- a more open veldt country where competition was keener between swiftness and stealth, and where adroitness of thinking and movement played a preponderating role in the preservation of the species. Darwin has said, "no country in the world abounds in a greater degree with dangerous beasts than Southern Africa," and, in my opinion, Southern Africa, by providing a vast open country with occasional wooded belts and a relative scarcity of water, together with a fierce and bitter mammalian competition, furnished a laboratory such as was essential to this penultimate phase of human evolution.