Earliest Olduvai hominins exploited unstable environments ~ 2 million years ago

Julio Mercader, Pam Akuku, Nicole L. Boivin, Revocatus Bugumba, Pastory Bushozi, Alfredo Carmacho, Tristan Carter, Siobhan Clarke, Arturo Cueva-Temprana, Paul Durkin, Julien Favreau, Kelvin Fella, Simon Haberle, Stephen Hubbard, Jamie Inwood, Makarius Itambu, Samson Koromo, Patrick Lee, Abdallah Mohammed, Aloyce MwambwigaLucas Olesilau, Robert Patalano, Patrick Roberts, Susan Rule, Palmira Saladie, Gunnar Siljedal, Maria Soto, Jonathan Umbsaar, Michael Petraglia

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Rapid environmental change is a catalyst for human evolution, driving dietary innovations, habitat diversification, and dispersal. However, there is a dearth of information to assess hominin adaptions to changing physiography during key evolutionary stages such as the early Pleistocene. Here we report a multiproxy dataset from Ewass Oldupa, in the Western Plio-Pleistocene rift basin of Olduvai Gorge (now Oldupai), Tanzania, to address this lacuna and offer an ecological perspective on human adaptability two million years ago. Oldupai�s earliest hominins sequentially inhabited the floodplains of sinuous channels, then river-influenced contexts, which now comprises the oldest palaeolake setting documented regionally. Early Oldowan tools reveal a homogenous technology to utilise diverse, rapidly changing environments that ranged from fern meadows to woodland mosaics, naturally burned landscapes, to lakeside woodland/palm groves as well as hyper-xeric steppes. Hominins periodically used emerging landscapes and disturbance biomes multiple times over 235,000 years, thus predating by more than 180,000 years the earliest known hominins and Oldowan industries from the Eastern side of the basin.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalNature Communications
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


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