Dr Manuel Will

Coastal adaptations in human evolution - what's the big deal?

1:00pm - 2:00pm / Thursday 2nd December 2021
Type: Seminar / Category: Department / Series: Evolutionary Archaeology Seminar Series
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Abstract: When, how and why did humans first inhabit shorelines and exploit marine foods? These questions have become a frequent topic in archaeology and paleoanthropology. Already over half a century ago, the American geographer Carl Sauer formally proposed the importance of coasts in becoming human. Researchers have long known that the use of coastal resources and settlement along shorelines—behaviours loosely summarized under the term ‘coastal adaptations’— are integral to the lifeways of many Holocene hunter-gatherers. More recently, coastal adaptations have been implicated to play a key role in the Pleistocene evolution and dispersal of
Homo sapiens by some researchers. Their actual role and relevance in these processes, however, remain heavily debated just as the nature, age and distribution of the archaeological evidence. Even more contested is the question in how far Neanderthals exhibited similar behaviours to modern humans. In this talk I will draw on interdisciplinary research and employ several spatio-temporal scales to provide multiple perspectives and a systematic review of coastal adaptations in Pleistocene African modern humans and European Neanderthals. Such an approach helps in finding more objective answers to the controversial question (and sometimes ideological battle) whether these behaviours might be paramount or irrelevant to understand human evolution.

Zoom registration: contact liverpoolevoanth@gmail.com to register