Evaluating refugia in recent human evolution in Africa



Blinkhorn, James, Timbrell, Lucy ORCID: 0000-0003-1229-554X, Grove, Matt ORCID: 0000-0002-2293-8732 and Scerri, Eleanor ML
(2022) Evaluating refugia in recent human evolution in Africa. PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, 377 (1849). 20200485-.

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Abstract

<i>Homo sapiens</i> have adapted to an incredible diversity of habitats around the globe. This capacity to adapt to different landscapes is clearly expressed within Africa, with Late Pleistocene <i>Homo sapiens</i> populations occupying savannahs, woodlands, coastlines and mountainous terrain. As the only area of the world where <i>Homo sapiens</i> have clearly persisted through multiple glacial-interglacial cycles, Africa is the only continent where classic refugia models can be formulated and tested to examine and describe changing patterns of past distributions and human phylogeographies. The potential role of refugia has frequently been acknowledged in the Late Pleistocene palaeoanthropological literature, yet explicit identification of potential refugia has been limited by the patchy nature of palaeoenvironmental and archaeological records, and the low temporal resolution of climate or ecological models. Here, we apply potential climatic thresholds on human habitation, rooted in ethnographic studies, in combination with high-resolution model datasets for precipitation and biome distributions to identify persistent refugia spanning the Late Pleistocene (130-10 ka). We present two alternate models suggesting that between 27% and 66% of Africa may have provided refugia to Late Pleistocene human populations, and examine variability in precipitation, biome and ecotone distributions within these refugial zones. This article is part of the theme issue 'Tropical forests in the deep human past'.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: refugia, Late Pleistocene, Africa, Homo sapiens, palaeoenvironmental change
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Histories, Languages and Cultures
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2022 10:00
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2023 21:05
DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2020.0485
Related URLs:
URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3153273