Professor Rick Potts

Ecological disruption and the origin of Homo sapiens

5:00pm - 6:00pm / Thursday 18th February 2021
Type: Webinar / Category: Department / Series: Evolutionary Archaeology Seminar Series
  • Admission: Attendance is free, however registering in advance is required. To register please contact
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Speaker: Professor Rick Potts
Affiliation: Human Origins Program, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC

Replacement of Acheulean technology by smaller-sized tools and spatially expanded resource use in the Middle Stone Age (MSA) reflect a critical transition in African hominin adaptation. The oldest securely dated evidence of this transition in eastern Africa is recorded in the Olorgesailie basin to between 499,000 and 320,000 years ago. This localized milestone in hominin evolution was accompanied by a dramatic turnover in large mammal species and ecological adaptations. A recently published study also from Olorgesailie now shows that ecological disruptions in fresh water availability, vegetation, and landscapes took place during these critical transitions, giving clues to the origin of adaptability in our species.

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