Date of Award

Spring 4-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Matt Sponheimer

Second Advisor

Herbert Covert

Third Advisor

Dennis Van Gerven


Biogeography figured prominently in the formation of the modern natural sciences and played a crucial role in Darwin’s theory of natural selection. However, as an avenue of investigation, biogeography remained underdeveloped until the last half of the twentieth century when the scientific community at large accepted the legitimacy of plate tectonics. The investigation of the spatial and temporal distribution of life on earth was finally conjoined with investigations of earth’s geological history. Paleoanthropologists have long been focused on the spatial and temporal distribution of hominin species on the African landscape and beyond. As biogeographers have continued to refine their methods, particularly with regard to cladistic analyses, paleoanthropologists can potentially gain new insight into the evolutionary history of Homo sapiens.