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A study correlates climate change and early human activities at the Algerian site of El Kherba 1.7 million years ago

Mohamed Sahnouni from CENIEH leads a study that reconstructs the ecology of this lower Pleistocene site and its relationship to the behavior of the hominids who inhabited this Northern Africa region
Tue, 25/04/2017

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 behavioral activities.

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.

In this The study, entitled Evidence of climate change in the Lower Pleistocene site of El Kherba (Algeria) and its possible impact on hominid activities, at 1.7 Ma, collaborators from the Centre National de Recherches Prehistoriques, Anthropologiques et Historiques (CNRPAH, Algeria), Museo Nacional de Ciemcias Naturales (Madrid), Indiana University Bloomington and Chevron Energy (USA), have also participated.

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