A changing climate has given humans many opportunities to leave Africa

Researchers have a few theories. If the first humans had been able to leave Africa much earlier, they would have faced fierce competitio...


Researchers have a few theories. If the first humans had been able to leave Africa much earlier, they would have faced fierce competition from the other early human species; the north was a Neanderthal stronghold, and much of East Asia was probably populated by another extinct human line, the Denisovans. Models also suggest that dry spells often followed favorable windows, which could have isolated populations initiating an exodus. But the authors also note that even if the times were good and humid, humans may not have taken advantage of these times to migrate.

The model had to make several assumptions, including that the southern strait would always have been passable by humans and that these people could have had the technology of the boat to make the crossing. The model decomposes the geography of the region into a grid with a resolution of half a degree of latitude and longitude, or about 30 miles. This approach inevitably ignores the mosaic of vegetation and topography that exists on the ground.

Dr Tierney, the paleoclimatologist, said the climate models in the new article were too simple to predict what climate change looked like hundreds of thousands of years ago. She also questioned some of the model’s rules, such as humans being able to migrate only with a minimum level of precipitation. “I guess it makes sense to make that assumption,” Dr. Tierney said. “On the other hand, the Nile is still there. They could move this way almost at any time.

Likewise, Emily Beverly, an Earth scientist at the University of Houston who was not involved in the research, said the authors did not consider the existence of fresh water sources which could have served as a source of drinking water for migrating humans during dry periods.

On the other hand, Dr Potts, the paleoanthropologist, noted that the minimum level of precipitation in the model would have been “far too low” to allow hunter-gatherers to disperse successfully out of Africa. Dr Potts highlighted the precedents research suggesting that early humans may only have dispersed across the continent when the average average rainfall was over 3.9 inches per year, and generally dispersed when there was at least 10 inches of rain. The most interesting research question, in Dr Potts’ eyes, is what dispersal paths would have been available in these windows of more abundant precipitation.

Perhaps the biggest question remains unanswered. “More and more evidence suggests that we have done this multiple times,” Dr Beverly said. “The question I always have is: Why? “

Abdullah Alsharekh, an archaeologist at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, who was not involved in the research, said he enjoyed reviewing the prehistoric Arab climate document. “The past two decades have shown that many of our questions about extra-African models can be dramatically improved by more field research in Arabia,” Dr Alsharekh wrote in an email. “What is hiding under these sandy deserts?”

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Newsrust - US Top News: A changing climate has given humans many opportunities to leave Africa
A changing climate has given humans many opportunities to leave Africa
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