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Climate Shocks

deMenocal, Peter B.

Changes in climate are emerging as elements that shaped human evolution over millions of years, as scientists learn that such alteration coincided with the extinction of some of our ancestors and the success of others. Evidence from ancient soils in East Africa, deep-sea sediments and fossil teeth from our forerunners combines to reveal rapid swings between wet and dry environments, as well two distinct periods when grasslands replaced more wooded areas. The emergence of our own genus, Homo, our varied diet, advances in stone tool technology and the very human trait of adaptability in the face of ongoing change may be tied to these episodes, according to one theory.

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Academic Units
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Biology and Paleo Environment
Publisher
Scientific American
Published Here
September 27, 2015