Climatic variability, plasticity, and dispersal: A case study from Lake Tana, Ethiopia

Journal article


Grove, M., Lamb, H., Roberts, H., Davies, S., Marshall, M., Bates, R. and Huws, D. 2015. Climatic variability, plasticity, and dispersal: A case study from Lake Tana, Ethiopia. Journal of Human Evolution. Vol 87 (Oct 2015), pp. 32 - 47. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2015.07.007
AuthorsGrove, M., Lamb, H., Roberts, H., Davies, S., Marshall, M., Bates, R. and Huws, D.
Abstract

The numerous dispersal events that have occurred during the prehistory of hominin lineages are the subject of longstanding and increasingly active debate in evolutionary anthropology. As well as research into the dating and geographic extent of such dispersals, there is an increasing focus on the factors that may have been responsible for dispersal. The growing body of detailed regional palaeoclimatic data is invaluable in demonstrating the often close relationship between changes in prehistoric environments and the movements of hominin populations. The scenarios constructed from such data are often overly simplistic, however, concentrating on the dynamics of cyclical contraction and expansion during severe and ameliorated conditions respectively. This contribution proposes a two-stage hypothesis of hominin dispersal in which populations (1) accumulate high levels of climatic tolerance during highly variable climatic phases, and (2) express such heightened tolerance via dispersal in subsequent low-variability phases. Likely dispersal phases are thus proposed to occur during stable climatic phases that immediately follow phases of high climatic variability. Employing high resolution palaeoclimatic data from Lake Tana, Ethiopia, the hypothesis is examined in relation to the early dispersal of Homo sapiens out of East Africa and into the Levant. A dispersal phase is identified in the Lake Tana record between c. 112,550 and c. 96,975 years ago, a date bracket that accords well with the dating evidence for H. sapiens occupation at the sites of Qafzeh and Skhul. Results are discussed in relation to the complex pattern of H. sapiens dispersal out of East Africa, with particular attention paid to the implications of recent genetic chronologies for the origin of non-African modern humans.

KeywordsAccumulated plasticity hypothesis; Dispersal routes; Evolutionary response to climate; Hominin; Homo sapiens; Palaeoclimate
Year2015
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
Journal citationVol 87 (Oct 2015), pp. 32 - 47
PublisherElseiver
ISSN00472484
1095-8606
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2015.07.007
Web address (URL)http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?eid=2-s2.0-84944111663&partnerID=MN8TOARS
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online19 Oct 2015
Publication process dates
Accepted12 Jul 2015
Deposited15 Jun 2023
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https://repository.derby.ac.uk/item/9z4vq/climatic-variability-plasticity-and-dispersal-a-case-study-from-lake-tana-ethiopia

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