Is there a link between climate change and human evolution?

[W]hile all the talk nowadays focuses on how to change the course of the climate’s evolution, a study out [October 11] in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests shifts in ancient weather patterns may have affected our own species’ evolution.

[Researchers] took core samples from Lake Magadi in southwest Kenya, sampling layers so deep they go back over a million years. By analyzing their changes in geochemistry, mineralogy, pollen counts and more, the team can recreate the region’s climate, and its changes.


So, what did they find? Starting about 575 thousand years ago, the area started become much drier, a process called aridification.


At the same time, the archaeological evidence shows our hominin ancestors were going through some changes too — what the authors call “a major transition in stone technologies.”

Related article:  'Carbon farming': The answer to climate change, flooding and declining biodiversity?


“The [earliest] dry phase and environmental variability would likely have had a significant impact on contemporary hominin populations regionally,” the authors write. Such a changing climate “can lead to an uneven distribution of resources that could drive hominins to travel more widely and to interact increasingly with other groups.”

With this finding, not only do we have a better picture of the kind of environment our hominin ancestors enjoyed, we also have more evidence of the kind of havoc a changing climate can wreak. You know, just in case we face anything similar in the future.

Read full, original post: Did Ancient Climate Change Affect Human Evolution?

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