These environments are different from the preferred environment to which we human beings are adapted, yet they are inhabited by organisms that have successfully adapted to them.
Gaining Access to Diverse Foods The first known stone tools date to around 2. Making and using stone tools also conferred versatility in how hominin toolmakers interacted with and adjusted to their surroundings. Simple toolmaking by stone-on-stone fracturing of rock conferred a selective advantage in that these hominin toolmakers possessed sharp flakes for cutting and hammerstones that were useful in pounding and crushing foods.
Basic stone tools thus greatly enhanced the functions of teeth in a way that allowed access to an enormous variety of foods. These foods included meat from large animals, which was sliced from carcasses using sharp edges of flakes.
Bones were broken open using stones to access the marrow inside. Other tools could be used to grind plants or to sharpen sticks to dig for tubers. Tool use would have made it easier for hominins to obtain food from a variety of different sources.
Tool use would have widened the diet of hominins. Meat, in particular, is a food that was obtainable in equivalent ways, with similar nutritional value, in virtually any type of habitat that early humans encountered.
Although making simple toolmaking may have developed originally in one type of environment, the carrying of stone tools over considerable distances — and becoming reliant on stone technology — may have arisen due to the benefits of altering the diet as environments changed.
The oldest known stone technology — called Oldowan toolmaking — involved carrying rock over several kilometers and is found associated with a variety of ancient habitats.
Redistributing stone and other resources, such as parts of animal carcasses, by transporting them may have helped hominins cope with variable habitats.
The Expanding World of Early Homo As predicted by the variability selection hypothesis, hominins were not found solely in one kind of habitat, but rather in a variety. A major signal of the ability to tolerate different environments was the dispersal of the genus early Homo beyond Africa into Asian environments.
Early evidence of the diversity of Homo erectus environments in Asia includes the following sites: Dmanisi, Republic of Georgia, 1. This site has grasslands surrounded by mountains with forests.
Hominins had access to lava as a raw material for tools. This site, located near an ancient lake, had a mixture of habitats with grasslands, bushlands and forests.
Nihewan Basin, China, 1. The Nihewan sites were also near a lake. Hominin toolmakers experienced many changes in vegetation over time, with habitats ranging from forests to grasslands. This region may have been much more arid than others, and temperatures changed seasonally between warm and cold.
Hominins here encountered grasslands, rivers and marine coastal environments in a tropical latitude setting. In these locations, hominin groups encountered distinctly different environments, different plants and animals and foods, and different climatic conditions — a very wide range of temperature and strong variations in aridity and monsoonal rains.
Hominins Persisted Through Environmental Change Environmental instability may have been a factor not only in shaping adaptations but also in contributing to the extinction of some lineages.
Environmental variability associated with the extinction of large mammal species has been proposed for the southern Kenya region.
Sediments, stone artifacts, and animal faunal at the site of Olorgesailie span most of the past 1. Numerous environmental shifts are recorded in the Olorgesailie deposits.
The ancient lake level and its chemistry, for example, changed frequently, and sometimes the lake dried up, leaving small wetlands and streams as the main source of water in the basin. Volcanic eruptions also blanketed the landscape in ash, killing off grass and reshaping the properties of the ecosystem.ABOUT.
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