Environment, climatic change and human evolution have been debated over the last 50 years giving special attention to the Plio-Pleistocene sites of the Rift Valley. In this paper we discuss the environment and the limits of hominin adaptability based on evidence from Melka Kunture, at 2000 m asl on the Ethiopian highlands, and specifically on the similar to 850 ka to similar to 700 ka sequence at sub-site Gombore II. Human fossils and multiple Acheulean occurrences, as well as hippo remains and footprints, combined with palynological analysis, provide a highly detailed chronological resolution of the changing local environmental conditions during the last similar to 150 ka of the MPT (Mid Pleistocene Transition), including the sequence of events after a volcanic eruption. Layers containing footprints and fossils are evidence of near-continuous occupation by hippos and their recolonization of the area after a disruptive volcanic eruption. Conversely, Acheulean implements and human fossils suggest that peopling by hominins occurred at a different and discontinuous pace even when the flora and fauna were re-established and the environment was rather stable. Most notably, the assembled evidence points to the limits of Homo erectus s.l adaptability. Apparently, this hominin could no longer live at 2000 m asl when the climate deteriorated during glacial isotopic stage 20, becoming markedly colder than it is today, but re-colonized the area when the climate turned warmer again during isotopic stage 19

The environment of the Ethiopian highlands at the Mid Pleistocene Transition: Fauna, flora and hominins in the 850-700 ka sequence of Gombore II (Melka Kunture)

MUSSI, MARGHERITA;MELIS, RITA TERESA
2016

Abstract

Environment, climatic change and human evolution have been debated over the last 50 years giving special attention to the Plio-Pleistocene sites of the Rift Valley. In this paper we discuss the environment and the limits of hominin adaptability based on evidence from Melka Kunture, at 2000 m asl on the Ethiopian highlands, and specifically on the similar to 850 ka to similar to 700 ka sequence at sub-site Gombore II. Human fossils and multiple Acheulean occurrences, as well as hippo remains and footprints, combined with palynological analysis, provide a highly detailed chronological resolution of the changing local environmental conditions during the last similar to 150 ka of the MPT (Mid Pleistocene Transition), including the sequence of events after a volcanic eruption. Layers containing footprints and fossils are evidence of near-continuous occupation by hippos and their recolonization of the area after a disruptive volcanic eruption. Conversely, Acheulean implements and human fossils suggest that peopling by hominins occurred at a different and discontinuous pace even when the flora and fauna were re-established and the environment was rather stable. Most notably, the assembled evidence points to the limits of Homo erectus s.l adaptability. Apparently, this hominin could no longer live at 2000 m asl when the climate deteriorated during glacial isotopic stage 20, becoming markedly colder than it is today, but re-colonized the area when the climate turned warmer again during isotopic stage 19
Melka Kunture; hippopotamus amphibius; fossil footprints; mid pleistocene transition; east african acheulean; Homo erectus s.l. adaptability
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11584/175670
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