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5 - The Middle Pleistocene Through the Holocene of Africa

A Synthesis

from Part I - Modern Africa and Overview of Late Cenozoic Paleoenvironments

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 May 2022

Sally C. Reynolds
Affiliation:
Bournemouth University
René Bobe
Affiliation:
University of Oxford
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Summary

The last 780,000 years in Africa, the Middle Pleistocene through the Holocene, witnessed several crucial events in hominin evolutionary history. These include: (1) the dissolution of the Acheulean (1.6 Ma to 160 ka) and development of the Middle Stone Age (MSA: ~285 to 50 ka) and Later Stone Age (LSA: from ~50 ka) archaeological industries (Ambrose, 1998; Villa et al., 2012; Tryon and Faith, 2013), (2) the appearance of both archaic and anatomically modern Homo sapiens (reviewed in McBrearty and Brooks, 2000; Wood and Richmond, 2000), and (3) the dispersal of modern humans within and out of Africa (Soares et al., 2012; Rito et al., 2013). These events are thought by many to be mediated by climate-driven environmental change (e.g., Compton, 2011; Potts, 2013; Jones and Stewart, 2016; Timmerman and Friedrich, 2016), although a lack of empirical paleoanthropological evidence (e.g., well-dated hominin remains or archaeological sites) directly associated with paleoenvironmental records obscures our understanding of these relationships. In the absence of such evidence, the faunal record, in addition to being a crucial source of paleoenvironmental data, provides essential ecological and evolutionary context for evaluating climate’s potential role in the more recent phases of human evolution.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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