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African Climate and Human Evolution Research at LDEO

African Climate and Human Evolution Research at LDEO
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Dramatic changes in early human evolution occurred in East and South Africa during the last ca. 5 Ma. These evolutionary changes include the gradual emergence of larger and bigger brained species, including the first appearance of our genus, Homo and the development of stone tools near ca. 2.6 Ma. Analysis of the fossil record from East and South Africa suggests that African fauna evolved in series of "pulses", centered near ca. 2.8 Ma, 1.8 Ma, and 1.0 Ma. Paleoclimate evidence from Africa and its adjacent oceans documents significant shifts in African climate towards progressively drier conditions. This "drying" of subtropical Africa occurred as a series of steps, also centered near ca. 2.8 Ma, 1.8 Ma, and 1.0 Ma. These fossil and paleoclimate results lend new support to environmental hypotheses of African faunal evolution, which state that critical junctures in African faunal evolution were mediated by ecological shifts forced by changes in African paleoclimate. As a result of ongoing efforts at this institution and at a number of research groups around the world, we are making progress on the question of how the evolution of hominids and other African vertebrates may have been shaped by past changes in African climate. This web site presents some of the current research topics being addressed at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
Submitted by elementlist on Oct 30, 2004
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