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Study correlates climate change and early human activities at 1.7 million year old Algerian site

Mohamed Sahnouni, coordinator of the Prehistoric Technology Program at the Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH), leads a study, published online in the journal L'Anthropologie, using fossil fauna and carbon stable isotope to reconstruct paleoenvironments of the newly discovered site of El Kherba (Algeria) dated to 1.7 million years ago, in relation with hominid behavioural activities.

Study correlates climate change and early human activities at 1.7 million year old Algerian site
Excavations at El Kherba [Credit: J. Mestre]
The results of this paleoecological study indicate the occurrence of an increasingly open landscape, which is supported by the pedogenic carbonate data showing a climate change that is consistent with the documented Plio-Pleistocene continental trend of increasing aridification and grassland expansion.

The climate change likely impacted hominid foraging activities, particularly in the Archaeological level A. The level A witnessed a drastic decrease in hominid activities characterized by a considerably lower density in stone tools and fossil bones as opposed to the lower level B, characterized by a closed habitat and abundant archaeological materials.

"The open habitat in level A would have caused major constraints for early hominids, such as limitations for access to food supply and water as a result to their diffusion and shortage on the landscape, as well as riskier possibilities for meat acquisition due to competition with carnivores," explains Mohamed Sahnouni.

Source: CENIEH [April 25, 2017]

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