In a newly published paper, Smithsonian anthropologist Richard Potts and anthropologist J. Tyler Faith of the University of Queensland, Australia, relate in detail the results of years of study defining a predictive model of climate and environmental variability correlated with key changes or stages in human evolution in East Africa and China. The study, in concert with previous studies, challenges some long-held theories about what has driven the mechanisms of human evolution.
The model, say the authors, predicts eight long periods of environmental instability in East Africa correlated with times of hominin evolutionary innovations as a result of natural selection resulting from the variability. The research also included data derived from palynological study in the Nihewan Basin of China, where evidence suggests that early humans survived and successfully adapted to a new, radically changed environment. [...] Popular Archaeology