Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ethiopian Plateau Formation Coincided With Climate Change That May Have Spurred Human Evolution

Date:
August 31, 2007
Source:
Geological Society of America
Summary:
More than three million years ago, early hominins evolved the ability to walk upright and in doing so started us along the evolutionary path that eventually gave rise to Homo sapiens. It was Darwin who first suggested that a change of climate, giving rise to vast, arid, savannahs, may have spurred on human evolution all those millions of years ago. But what caused that change of climate? Could the formation of one of Earth's most spectacular landscapes, the Ethiopian Plateau, have been responsible for development of the great African grasslands? And if so, what were the geological processes that led to the formation of the plateau?

More than three million years ago, early hominins evolved the ability to walk upright and in doing so started us along the evolutionary path that eventually gave rise to Homo sapiens.

It was Darwin who first suggested that a change of climate, giving rise to vast, arid, savannahs, may have spurred on human evolution all those millions of years ago. But what caused that change of climate? Could the formation of one of Earth's most spectacular landscapes, the Ethiopian Plateau, have been responsible for development of the great African grasslands? And if so, what were the geological processes that led to the formation of the plateau?

To answer these questions, Nahid DS Gani of the University of Utah and colleagues turned to some of the most advanced technology that our species has yet produced - the Space Shuttle. By integrating radar topography data collected by the space shuttle with field observations, Gani and colleagues have placed tight constraints on the topographic evolution of the Ethiopian Plateau.

Their results indicate that rapid uplift of the plateau began about six million years ago and was related to the development of large shield volcanoes that erupted great volumes of basalt.

These findings suggest that plateau formation resulted from the presence of a hot plume of mantle pushing up against the base of the African continent. The timing of plateau formation coincides with and is therefore probably related to the change in climate that gave rise to the African savannahs and ultimately to human evolution.

Ironically, Gani and colleagues had to turn to outer space to determine that the geological processes that spurred on human evolution lay deep within Earth's mantle.

Reference: Blue Nile incision on the Ethiopian Plateau: Pulsed plateau growth, Pliocene uplift, and hominin evolution, Nahid DS Gani, Energy and Geoscience Institute, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84108, USA; et al.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Geological Society of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Geological Society of America. "Ethiopian Plateau Formation Coincided With Climate Change That May Have Spurred Human Evolution." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 August 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070828162834.htm>.
Geological Society of America. (2007, August 31). Ethiopian Plateau Formation Coincided With Climate Change That May Have Spurred Human Evolution. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070828162834.htm
Geological Society of America. "Ethiopian Plateau Formation Coincided With Climate Change That May Have Spurred Human Evolution." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070828162834.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) Malaysia's last "fish listeners" -- practitioners of a dying local art of listening underwater to locate their quarry -- try to keep the ancient technique alive in the face of industrial trawling and the depletion of stocks. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mother And Son Find Woolly Mammoth Tusks 22 Years Apart

Mother And Son Find Woolly Mammoth Tusks 22 Years Apart

Newsy (Aug. 15, 2014) A mother and son in Alaska uncovered woolly mammoth tusks in the same river more than two decades apart. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fossils Reveal Ancient Flying Reptile With 'Butterfly Head'

Fossils Reveal Ancient Flying Reptile With 'Butterfly Head'

Newsy (Aug. 14, 2014) Newly found fossils reveal a previously unknown species of flying reptile with a really weird head, which some say looks like a butterfly. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Clearing WWII's Explosive Legacy in the Pacific

Clearing WWII's Explosive Legacy in the Pacific

AFP (Aug. 11, 2014) The hulks of tanks can still be found rusting in the jungles of Palau, but the fierce fighting that scarred the Pacific island nation in WWII has left a more dangerous legacy - unexploded bombs that pose a constant risk to locals. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins