At Olduvai Gorge, where excavations helped to confirm Africa was the cradle of humanity, scientists now find the landscape once fluctuated rapidly, likely guiding early human evolution.These findings suggest that key mental developments within the human lineage may have been linked with a highly variable environment, researchers added.
The researchers discovered that Olduvai Gorge abruptly and routinely fluctuated between dry grasslands and damp forests about five or six times during a period of 200,000 years.
The research team's statistical and mathematical models link the changes they see with other events at the time, such as alterations in the planet's movement. See - 50 Amazing Facts About Earth
The researchers now hope to examine changes at Olduvai Gorge not just across time but space, which could help shed light on aspects of early human evolution such as foraging patterns.
Magill, Freeman and their colleague Gail Ashley detailed their findings online Dec. 24 in two papers in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.