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"Environmental Determinants in Human Evolution" by John Kingston

Monday, January 30, 2012
12:00 AM
411 West Hall

"Situating human evolution in an environmental context is necessary to develop adaptive or causal perspectives on the morphological and behavioral innovations documented in the fossil record."

"Situating human evolution in an environmental context is necessary to develop adaptive or causal perspectives on the morphological and behavioral innovations documented in the fossil record. However, reconstructing environments in the past remains a complex endeavor, typically requiring assimilation of indirect evidence of variable spatial and temporal resolution. Fieldwork at fossil hominin and ape sites as well as isotopic laboratory studies have revealed complex patterns of habitat heterogeneity and persistent environmental change throughout the course of human evolution. As we begin to resolve ecological frameworks at finer levels, subtle and intricate selective pressures that may have influenced our evolution can be modeled and tested. Cumulatively, emerging data suggest that human evolution, and evolution in general, may have occurred in response to short-term dynamic and cyclical environmental fluctuations rather than large-scale environmental change or trends."