Climate change in the Rift Valley may have helped spark human evolution, researchers find

Mail Online | 10/8/2018 | Mark Prigg For Dailymail.com
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Climate change in the 'cradle of humanity' sparked human evolution, a new study has claimed.

Researchers studied lake sediment cores in the rift valley of East Africa, a region often referred to as the cradle of humanity because of its rich source of human fossils as well as stone tools and other archaeological evidence.

Evidence - 'profound - Changes - Forces - Evolution

They found evidence of 'profound climatic changes' they say may have been driving forces behind hominin evolution, the origins of modern Homo sapiens and the onset of the Middle Stone Age.

'Much evidence for human evolution has been gathered from the area, but linking those records to detailed environmental records was missing until now,' said the study's lead author, Richard Owen, of Hong Kong Baptist University.

Gap - Records - Stone - Age - Years

'There is a big gap in the records between the last Early Stone Age tools 500,000 years ago and the appearance of Middle Stone Age tools about 320,000 years ago. Our results plugged that gap with a continuous environmental record.'

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), is based on lake sediment cores, and is the first to provide a continuous environmental context for the diverse archeological evidence recovered from nearby localities in the rift valley basins of southern Kenya.

Hypothesis - Variability - Selection - Environment - Creates

'According to the hypothesis of variability selection, a rapidly changing environment creates selective pressure that forces species to adapt to rapid change', Owen said.

'Under that scenario, the larger brains of anatomically modern humans would have allowed our ancestors to adapt quickly to an increasingly less predictable world.'

Cores - Lake - Magadi - Part - Hominin

The cores were sampled from Lake Magadi as part of the Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project, or HSPDP, which is directed by University of Arizona professor Andrew Cohen.

Lake Magadi, a shallow, periodically dry lake, is close to the Olorgesailie basin in Kenya, one of the most productive sites for archaeological evidence of...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Mail Online
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