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Did Climate Change Impact Hominin Evolution?

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Broken Hill Skull Replica01BUSAN, SOUTH KOREA—In a controversial new study, researchers led by climate physicist and oceanographer Axel Timmermann of Pusan National University evaluated data from known hominid fossil and archaeological sites in light of a computer simulation of possible climate and habitat conditions in Africa, Asia, and Europe over a period of two million years, according to a Science News report. The study suggest that Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, and Homo sapiens were able to adapt to a diverse range of temperatures, levels of rainfall, and plant growth as they migrated out of Africa and into unfamiliar environments. The climate model indicates that these migrations coincided with the warmer climate shifts that occur every 20,000 to 100,000 years due to variations in the Earth’s orbit and tilt of its axis. The travel, Timmermann said, stimulated brain growth and cultural innovation. In this scenario, he added, H. heidelbergensis may have given rise to the Denisovans in Eurasia some 430,000 years ago, while the recurring Ice Ages in Europe brought about the evolution of Neanderthals between 400,000 and 300,000 years ago. Timmerman also suggests that H. sapiens emerged in the harsh conditions in southern Africa between 310,000 and 200,000 years ago. Modern humans were then able to adjust to the hot, dry climate found in northeastern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula when they later traveled out of Africa To read more about Homo heidelbergensis, go to "A Place to Hide the Bodies."

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