International Journal of Human Diversity and Evolution
Coverage: 1923-1941 (Vols. I-XIX) & 1962-2023 (Vols. 1-61)
ISSN 0323-1119 (Print)
ISSN 2570-9127 (Online)
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'Turner A, 1999: Early hominid dispersions. Anthropologie (Brno) 37, 1: 19-26'.
Modern humans have reached their present distribution through a process of dispersion that originated some two to three million years ago in Africa. Like most aspects of hominid evolution, this dispersion is best considered within a general framework drawn from a wider understanding of the ecology and evolution of the terrestrial mammal fauna. New species originate in allopatry, within preferred habitats, and tend to remain within that habitat until new conditions provoke afresh pattern of range fragmentation. Any dispersion of a new species is thus from a geographically restricted point of origin. The extent and rate of dispersion are therefore generally dictated by the rate of population expansion into new territories and the degree of habitat specialisation of the species. In the case of hominids, the development of technology and of increasingly sophisticated patterns of social organisation and behaviour will have impinged directly upon the 'natural' pattern of dispersion, removing the constraints of habitat specialisation. Changes in the pattern and range of dispersion may be seen with the first appearance of the genus Homo in Africa between 2.5 and 2,0 Ma (million years ago) and shortly after that with movement into the Levant and Caucasus, culminating by around 1.0 Ma with at least initial dispersions into the temperate and tropical regions of the Old World, most probably by Homo erectus. In this breadth of habitat exploitation the hominids more closely resemble the larger carnivores than any other family among the terrestrial mammals. However, more permanent occupation of temperate Eurasia appears to have been a relatively late, Middle Pleistocene phenomenon. This pattern may in part have been dictated by the availability offood resources, which may in turn have been conditioned by the structure of the guild of larger carnivores. Only after 0.5 Ma did that guild reduce in size to resemble that of modern-day eastern Africa.
Hominids - Human evolution - Eurasia - Africa - Prehistoric migrations - Human ecology - Pleistocene period

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