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      Earliest Olduvai hominins exploited unstable environments ~ 2 million years ago


      1 , 2 , , 3 , 4 , 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 1 , 2 , 9 , 10 , 8 , 11 , 1 , , 1 , 8 , 12 , 13 , 8 , 1 , 14 , 12 , 2 , 2 , 5 , 11 , 3 , 4 , 1 , 15 , 16 , , 1 , 2 , 5 , 6

      Nature Communications

      Nature Publishing Group UK

      Palaeoecology, Biological anthropology, Archaeology, Palaeontology

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          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.


          Oldupai Gorge, Tanzania is a key site for understanding early human evolution. Here, the authors report a multiproxy dataset from the Western basin of Oldupai Gorge dating to 2 million years ago, enabling the in situ comparison of lithic assemblages, paleoenvironments and hominin behavioral adaptability.

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          Most cited references 64

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          Breakage patterns of human long bones

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            International code for phytolith nomenclature 1.0.

            Phytoliths (microscopic opal silica particles produced in and between the cells of many plants) are a very resilient, often-preserved type of microfossil and today, phytolith analysis is widely used in palaeoenvironmental studies, botany, geology and archaeology. To date there has been little standardization in the way phytoliths are described and classified. This paper presents the first International Code for Phytolith Nomenclature (ICPN), proposing an easy to follow, internationally accepted protocol to describe and name phytoliths.
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              A stable isotope aridity index for terrestrial environments.

              We use the oxygen isotopic composition of tooth enamel from multiple mammalian taxa across eastern Africa to present a proxy for aridity. Here we report tooth enamel delta(18)O values of 14 species from 18 locations and classify them according to their isotopic sensitivity to environmental aridity. The species are placed into two groups, evaporation sensitive (ES) and evaporation insensitive (EI). Tooth enamel delta(18)O values of ES animals increase with aridity, whereas the tooth enamel delta(18)O values of EI animals track local meteoric water delta(18)O values, demonstrating that bioapatite delta(18)O values of animals with different behaviors and physiologies record different aspects of the same environment. The enrichment between tooth enamel delta(18)O values of ES and EI animals records the degree of (18)O enrichment between evaporated water (ingested water or body water) and source water, which increases with environmental aridity. Recognition of the ES-EI distinction creates the opportunity to use the (18)O composition of bioapatite as an index of terrestrial aridity.

                Author and article information

                Nat Commun
                Nat Commun
                Nature Communications
                Nature Publishing Group UK (London )
                7 January 2021
                7 January 2021
                : 12
                [1 ]GRID grid.22072.35, ISNI 0000 0004 1936 7697, University of Calgary, ; Alberta, Canada
                [2 ]GRID grid.469873.7, ISNI 0000 0004 4914 1197, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, ; Jena, Germany
                [3 ]GRID grid.452421.4, Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social (IPHES), ; Tarragona, Spain
                [4 ]GRID grid.410367.7, ISNI 0000 0001 2284 9230, Àrea de Prehistòria, Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), ; Tarragona, Spain
                [5 ]GRID grid.1003.2, ISNI 0000 0000 9320 7537, School of Social Science, , University of Queensland, ; Saint Lucia, QLD Australia
                [6 ]GRID grid.453560.1, ISNI 0000 0001 2192 7591, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, ; Washington, DC USA
                [7 ]GRID grid.463472.0, Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, ; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
                [8 ]GRID grid.8193.3, ISNI 0000 0004 0648 0244, University of Dar es Salaam, ; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
                [9 ]GRID grid.21613.37, ISNI 0000 0004 1936 9609, University of Manitoba, ; Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada
                [10 ]GRID grid.25073.33, ISNI 0000 0004 1936 8227, McMaster University, ; Hamilton, Ontario Canada
                [11 ]GRID grid.1001.0, ISNI 0000 0001 2180 7477, Australian National University, ; Canberra, ACT Australia
                [12 ]GRID grid.412898.e, ISNI 0000 0004 0648 0439, University of Iringa, ; Iringa, Tanzania
                [13 ]GRID grid.17063.33, ISNI 0000 0001 2157 2938, University of Toronto, ; Toronto, Ontario Canada
                [14 ]National Natural History Museum, Arusha, Tanzania
                [15 ]Madrid Institute for Advanced Study, Madrid, Spain
                [16 ]GRID grid.5515.4, ISNI 0000000119578126, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, ; Madrid, Spain
                © The Author(s) 2021

                Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

                Funded by: FundRef https://doi.org/10.13039/501100000155, Gouvernement du Canada | Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines du Canada);
                Award ID: 895-2016-1017
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                © The Author(s) 2021


                palaeoecology, biological anthropology, archaeology, palaeontology


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