Advanced computer modelling of hominin dispersal from Africa: integrating archaeological and palaeoclimatic simulations

Paul Valdes, Steven Mithen, Bruce Sellwood, John Hughes, Sam Smith, Alan Haywood, 2007

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Prof Paul Valdes
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University of Bristol
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https://doi.org/10.5284/1000212
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Paul Valdes, Steven Mithen, Bruce Sellwood, John Hughes, Sam Smith, Alan Haywood (2007) Advanced computer modelling of hominin dispersal from Africa: integrating archaeological and palaeoclimatic simulations [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor] https://doi.org/10.5284/1000212

Overview

Our study targeted the questions surrounding the form and rapidity of the first hominid dispersal from Africa, that of Homo erectus. Arrival dates of Homo erectus in Europe and SE Asia were investigated, exploring the effects that bridges and barriers, combined with environmental/climate change, had on human dispersal patterns during the period from 2myr to 1myr ago. Our research shows that the most consistent dispersal scenario is that Homo erectus was limited to 'marginal' existence in mid-latitude forest regions (i.e. Europe), rather than successful dominance of the landscape (fig 1). In addition to this the methodology has been extended to address issues of hominid morphology, shedding light on the issue of Homo erectus diversity during the Plio-Pleistocene, specifically demonstrating that an Africa/Asia division is the natural consequence of biogeography (fig 2). Finally a series of simulations have been completed investigating the application of the methodology to the dispersal of Homo sapiens out of Africa, around 200 kyr.

figures 1 and 2

Figure 1: Patterns of Homo erectus occupation at 1.0 myr resulting from colonization most consistent with the observed record of arrival. Occupation varies between 100% occupation (black) to 0% occupation (white).
Figure 2: Simulated Pleistocene diversity of Homo erectus, relative to East African populations. Major fossil find sites are illustrated using white markers. The color scale illustrates increasing divergence away from the East African populations.

Archive description

The data archived here consists of the vegetation patterns used in constructing the simulations and the patterns of climate variability used to constrain the variations in sea level and vegetation change. From these data it is possible to reproduce the simulation results. Simulation results are available from:

J.K. Hughes, A. Haywood, S.J. Mithen, B.W. Sellwood, P.J. Valdes (In Press) 'Investigating Early Hominin Dispersal Patterns: developing a framework for climate data integration'. Journal Of Human Evolution.

The land distribution and orography used were from the ICE-4G data set, and can be obtained through the USGS from: http://geo-nsdi.er.usgs.gov/metadata/other/pages-93-015/metadata.faq.html

  • File 1 - Climate_variability.csv - contains three alternative climate variability records implemented (corresponding to a plio-pleistocene vegetation transitions at 2.5, 1.8 and 1.0 Mya). This record is based on benthic foram data from the Delphi project (http://www.esc.cam.ac.uk/delphi/).
  • File 2 - Climate_var_modern.csv - contains the climate variability data set used in modern Homo sapiens simulations, derived from the Vostok ice core (http://cdiac.ornl.gov/ftp/trends/co2/vostok.icecore.co2).
  • File 3 - Vegetation.txt - contains the vegetation patterns used in Stepping Out.