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Climate change causes ancient human migration

By Jeong Sun-yun | 기사입력 2022/05/18 [16:38]

Climate change causes ancient human migration

By Jeong Sun-yun | 입력 : 2022/05/18 [16:38]

 From Wikimedia Commons. Map depicting the way early modern humans (Homo sapiens) are thought to have spread across the globe.



It has been reportedly confirmed that climate change affected the great migration of ancient humans. According to a new study, ancient humans are likely to have evolved by settling and adapting to new habitats in response to climate change.

 

Axel Timmermann, lead author of the study and director of the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) Center for Climate Physics (ICCP) at Pusan National University in South Korea, said, “Past astronomically-forced climate change determined where ancient humans lived and how their habitat and food-preferences changed over time due to adaptation.”

 

According to the researchers, past climate changes caused by astronomical forces triggered ice ages and warmer interglacial periods. The study said climate change has determined areas where food supplies were available and facilitated migration and adaptation. The researchers also mapped the locations of five human lineages and their habitats. 

 

As Timermann added, previous studies also examined the link between climate change and human evolution. However, despite the long study, most of the data were not available to support this hypothesis quantitatively. In this study, the researchers tried to resolve this by integrating data on old fossil remains and archaeological artifacts.  

 

There are five human lineages such as Homo neanderthalensis, Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, African Homo (Homo habilis and Homo ergaster), and Homo sapiens. All five species are said to have had different preferences for certain habitats, but they all responded to climate change, the researchers stressed.

According to the researchers’ analysis, Homo erectus and Homo sapiens had the largest habitats. Neanderthals were concentrated in Europe, and early African homos are said to have designated eastern and southern Africa as shelters. Homo heidelbergensis settled in South Africa, East Africa and Eurasia.

 

Researchers said that, among them, Homo heidelbergensis may have given birth to Denisovans about 430,000 years ago. It was revealed that severe habitats formed by repeated ice ages in central Europe accelerated the evolution of Neanderthals between 400,000 and 300,000 years ago. Finally, studies suggest that Homo heidelbergensis evolved into Homo sapiens between 310,000 and 200,000 years ago, when more barren environmental conditions were created in southern Africa and they migrated out of Africa.

 

Based on these findings, Timmermann said, “Archaic humans either had to adapt to the new environment or migrate to different regions,” adding, “Climate conditions are strongly connected to food security.” The researchers found that persistent severe weather conditions could trigger a gradual transition of species. Timmermann said, “The team plans to gain a clearer picture of ancient humans by studying the effects of past climate change on human genetic diversity.”

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