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Science. 2018 Apr 6;360(6384):86-90. doi: 10.1126/science.aao2200. Epub 2018 Mar 15.

Environmental dynamics during the onset of the Middle Stone Age in eastern Africa.

Author information

1
Human Origins Program, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20013, USA. pottsr@si.edu.
2
Department of Earth Sciences, National Museums of Kenya, P.O. Box 40658-00100, Nairobi, Kenya.
3
Human Origins Program, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20013, USA.
4
Department of Paleobiology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20013, USA.
5
Natural History Museum of Utah and Department of Anthropology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84108, USA.
6
Department of Anthropology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
7
Department of Anthropology, George Washington University, Washington, DC 20052, USA.
8
Archaeology Program, National Science Foundation, Alexandria, VA 22314, USA.
9
Berkeley Geochronology Center, Berkeley, CA 94709, USA.
10
Department of Earth Science, Santa Monica College, Santa Monica, CA 90405, USA.
11
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.
12
University Museum, Department of Natural History, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.
13
Department of Anthropology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.
14
Department of Geography, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong.
15
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5E2, Canada.

Abstract

Development of the African Middle Stone Age (MSA) before 300,000 years ago raises the question of how environmental change influenced the evolution of behaviors characteristic of early Homo sapiens We used temporally well-constrained sedimentological and paleoenvironmental data to investigate environmental dynamics before and after the appearance of the early MSA in the Olorgesailie basin, Kenya. In contrast to the Acheulean archeological record in the same basin, MSA sites are associated with a markedly different faunal community, more pronounced erosion-deposition cycles, tectonic activity, and enhanced wet-dry variability. Aspects of Acheulean technology in this region imply that, as early as 615,000 years ago, greater stone material selectivity and wider resource procurement coincided with an increased pace of land-lake fluctuation, potentially anticipating the adaptability of MSA hominins.

PMID:
29545506
DOI:
10.1126/science.aao2200
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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