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.
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).
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