viernes, 12 de septiembre de 2014

Study ties groundwater to human evolution

Our ancient ancestors’ ability to move around and find new sources of groundwater during extremely dry periods in Africa millions of years ago may have been key to their survival and the evolution of the human species, a new study shows. 

The research – published in the journal PLOS ONE – combines geological evidence from the Olduvai sedimentary basin in Northern Tanzania, which formed about 2.2 million years ago, and results from a hydrological model.

It shows that while water in rivers and lakes would have disappeared as the climate changed due to variations in the Earth's orbit, freshwater springs fed by groundwater could have stayed active for up to 1000 years without rainfall.

“A major unknown connected with human evolution in this climatically turbulent environment is the availability of resources, particularly freshwater,” says lead author Dr Mark Cuthbert, holder of a European Community-funded Marie Curie Research Fellowship at UNSW’s Connected Waters Initiative and University of Birmingham (UK).

Potable water in rivers or lakes in the region is likely to have been scarce, owing to salinity, drought and the short-lived flow of streams. Groundwater may have provided “a key alternative potable resource for sustaining life” in this environment. [...] newsroom.unsw.edu.au via archaeologynewsnetwork