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Dynamics of Green Sahara Periods and Their Role in Hominin Evolution

Dynamics of Green Sahara Periods and Their Role in Hominin Evolution
Dynamics of Green Sahara Periods and Their Role in Hominin Evolution
Astronomically forced insolation changes have driven monsoon dynamics and recurrent humid episodes in North Africa, resulting in green Sahara Periods (GSPs) with savannah expansion throughout most of the desert. Despite their potential for expanding the area of prime hominin habitats and favouring out-of-Africa dispersals, GSPs have not been incorporated into the narrative of hominin evolution due to poor knowledge of their timing, dynamics and landscape composition at evolutionary timescales. We present a compilation of continental and marine paleoenvironmental records from within and around North Africa, which enables identification of over 230 GSPs within the last 8 million years. By combining the main climatological determinants of woody cover in tropical Africa with paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic data for representative (Holocene and Eemian) GSPs, we estimate precipitation regimes and habitat distributions during GSPs. Their chronology is consistent with the ages of Saharan archeological and fossil hominin sites. Each GSP took 2–3 kyr to develop, peaked over 4–8 kyr, biogeographically connected the African tropics to African and Eurasian mid latitudes, and ended within 2–3 kyr, which resulted in rapid habitat fragmentation. We argue that the well-dated succession of GSPs presented here may have played an important role in migration and evolution of hominins.
1932-6203
e76514
Larrasoaña, Juan C.
6bf2e75f-54a1-42b8-96e0-b80d2462de2c
Roberts, Andrew P.
4f062491-5408-4edb-8dd1-140c6a42e93f
Rohling, Eelco J.
a2a27ef2-fcce-4c71-907b-e692b5ecc685
Larrasoaña, Juan C.
6bf2e75f-54a1-42b8-96e0-b80d2462de2c
Roberts, Andrew P.
4f062491-5408-4edb-8dd1-140c6a42e93f
Rohling, Eelco J.
a2a27ef2-fcce-4c71-907b-e692b5ecc685

Larrasoaña, Juan C., Roberts, Andrew P. and Rohling, Eelco J. (2013) Dynamics of Green Sahara Periods and Their Role in Hominin Evolution. PLoS ONE, 8 (10), e76514. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076514).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Astronomically forced insolation changes have driven monsoon dynamics and recurrent humid episodes in North Africa, resulting in green Sahara Periods (GSPs) with savannah expansion throughout most of the desert. Despite their potential for expanding the area of prime hominin habitats and favouring out-of-Africa dispersals, GSPs have not been incorporated into the narrative of hominin evolution due to poor knowledge of their timing, dynamics and landscape composition at evolutionary timescales. We present a compilation of continental and marine paleoenvironmental records from within and around North Africa, which enables identification of over 230 GSPs within the last 8 million years. By combining the main climatological determinants of woody cover in tropical Africa with paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic data for representative (Holocene and Eemian) GSPs, we estimate precipitation regimes and habitat distributions during GSPs. Their chronology is consistent with the ages of Saharan archeological and fossil hominin sites. Each GSP took 2–3 kyr to develop, peaked over 4–8 kyr, biogeographically connected the African tropics to African and Eurasian mid latitudes, and ended within 2–3 kyr, which resulted in rapid habitat fragmentation. We argue that the well-dated succession of GSPs presented here may have played an important role in migration and evolution of hominins.

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Published date: 16 October 2013
Organisations: Paleooceanography & Palaeoclimate

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 359047
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/359047
ISSN: 1932-6203
PURE UUID: 9e90d057-0186-444b-adeb-e47c4ecc51f1
ORCID for Eelco J. Rohling: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-5349-2158

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Date deposited: 21 Oct 2013 09:23
Last modified: 06 Jun 2018 13:06

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