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J Hum Evol. 2003 Dec;45(6):421-40.

Dispersal and colonisation, long and short chronologies: how continuous is the Early Pleistocene record for hominids outside East Africa?

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Department of Archaeology and Prehistory, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S1 4ET, UK.


This paper examines the evidence for hominids outside East Africa during the Early Pleistocene. Most attention has focused recently on the evidence for or against a late Pliocene dispersal, ca. 1.8 Ma., of hominids out of Africa into Asia and possibly southern Europe. Here, the focus is widened to include North Africa as well as southern Asia and Europe, as well as the evidence in these regions for hominids after their first putative appearance ca. 1.8 Ma. It suggests that overall there is very little evidence for hominids in most of these regions before the Middle Pleistocene. Consequently, it concludes that the colonising capabilities of Homo erectus may have been seriously over-rated, and that even if hominids did occupy parts of North Africa, southern Europe and southern Asia shortly after 2 Ma, there is little evidence of colonisation. Whilst further fieldwork will doubtless slowly fill many gaps in a poorly documented Lower Pleistocene hominid record, it appears premature to conclude that the appearance of hominids in North Africa, Europe and Asia was automatically followed by permanent settlement. Rather, current data are more consistent with the view that Lower Pleistocene hominid populations outside East Africa were often spatially and temporally discontinuous, that hominid expansion was strongly constrained by latitude, and that occupation of temperate latitudes north of latitude 40 degrees was largely confined to interglacial periods.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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