UCL Discovery
UCL home » Library Services » Electronic resources » UCL Discovery

East African climate pulses and early human evolution

Maslin, MA; Brierley, CM; Milner, AM; Shultz, S; Trauth, MH; Wilson, KE; (2014) East African climate pulses and early human evolution. QUATERNARY SCIENCE REVIEWS , 101 1 - 17. 10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.06.012. Green open access

[thumbnail of 1-s2.0-S0277379114002418-main.pdf] PDF
1-s2.0-S0277379114002418-main.pdf

Download (4MB)

Abstract

Current evidence suggests that all of the major events in hominin evolution have occurred in East Africa. Over the last two decades, there has been intensive work undertaken to understand African palaeoclimate and tectonics in order to put together a coherent picture of how the environment of East Africa has varied in the past. The landscape of East Africa has altered dramatically over the last 10 million years. It has changed from a relatively flat, homogenous region covered with mixed tropical forest, to a varied and heterogeneous environment, with mountains over 4 km high and vegetation ranging from desert to cloud forest. The progressive rifting of East Africa has also generated numerous lake basins, which are highly sensitive to changes in the local precipitation-evaporation regime. There is now evidence that the presence of precession-driven, ephemeral deep-water lakes in East Africa were concurrent with major events in hominin evolution. It seems the unusual geology and climate of East Africa created periods of highly variable local climate, which, it has been suggested could have driven hominin speciation, encephalisation and dispersal out of Africa. One example is the significant hominin speciation and brain expansion event at ∼1.8 Ma that seems to have been coeval with the occurrence of highly variable, extensive, deep-water lakes. This complex, climatically very variable setting inspired first the variability selection hypothesis, which was then the basis for the pulsed climate variability hypothesis. The newer of the two suggests that the long-term drying trend in East Africa was punctuated by episodes of short, alternating periods of extreme humidity and aridity. Both hypotheses, together with other key theories of climate-evolution linkages, are discussed in this paper. Though useful the actual evolution mechanisms, which led to early hominins are still unclear and continue to be debated. However, it is clear that an understanding of East African lakes and their palaeoclimate history is required to understand the context within which humans evolved and eventually left East Africa.

Type: Article
Title: East African climate pulses and early human evolution
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.06.012
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.06.012
Language: English
Additional information: © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).
Keywords: Human evolution, East Africa, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoliminology, Tectonics, Hominin, Orbital forcing, Cenozoic climate transitions, Pulsed climate variability hypothesis
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1447999
Downloads since deposit
662Downloads
Download activity - last month
Download activity - last 12 months
Downloads by country - last 12 months

Archive Staff Only

View Item View Item