Magazine article Geographical

Earth's Wobbles Drove Human Evolution

Magazine article Geographical

Earth's Wobbles Drove Human Evolution

Article excerpt

A cruelly fickle climate in East Africa two million years ago could have triggered the rapid development of the human race, according to Dr Mark Maslin, a palaeoclimatologist at University College, London.

"The old story is that East Africa steadily got drier and drier;' said Maslin, speaking at the RGS-IBG conference last October. But, he continued, the evidence for the steady drying out of the Rift Valley came largely from studies of ocean sediments. "But ocean cores don't really tell you what happened in the Rift Valley" he said. "We decided to go there and look at sediments. We dated all of the lake sediments we could find, But all these lakes appeared when Africa was meant to be getting drier"

Maslin said a number of human and related species appeared at times when there were "beautiful and lovely" lakes in the Rift Valley. "But we believe that the lakes weren't permanent features" It seems they periodically dried out over a period of 100 years or so as the result of the Earth's slow wobble around its axis of rotation. …

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