Nonlinear detection of paleoclimate-variability transitions possibly related to human evolution

  • Potential paleoclimatic driving mechanisms acting on human evolution present an open problem of cross-disciplinary scientific interest. The analysis of paleoclimate archives encoding the environmental variability in East Africa during the past 5 Ma has triggered an ongoing debate about possible candidate processes and evolutionary mechanisms. In this work, we apply a nonlinear statistical technique, recurrence network analysis, to three distinct marine records of terrigenous dust flux. Our method enables us to identify three epochs with transitions between qualitatively different types of environmental variability in North and East Africa during the (i) Middle Pliocene (3.35-3.15 Ma B. P.), (ii) Early Pleistocene (2.25-1.6 Ma B. P.), and (iii) Middle Pleistocene (1.1-0.7 Ma B. P.). A deeper examination of these transition periods reveals potential climatic drivers, including (i) large-scale changes in ocean currents due to a spatial shift of the Indonesian throughflow in combination with an intensification of Northern HemispherePotential paleoclimatic driving mechanisms acting on human evolution present an open problem of cross-disciplinary scientific interest. The analysis of paleoclimate archives encoding the environmental variability in East Africa during the past 5 Ma has triggered an ongoing debate about possible candidate processes and evolutionary mechanisms. In this work, we apply a nonlinear statistical technique, recurrence network analysis, to three distinct marine records of terrigenous dust flux. Our method enables us to identify three epochs with transitions between qualitatively different types of environmental variability in North and East Africa during the (i) Middle Pliocene (3.35-3.15 Ma B. P.), (ii) Early Pleistocene (2.25-1.6 Ma B. P.), and (iii) Middle Pleistocene (1.1-0.7 Ma B. P.). A deeper examination of these transition periods reveals potential climatic drivers, including (i) large-scale changes in ocean currents due to a spatial shift of the Indonesian throughflow in combination with an intensification of Northern Hemisphere glaciation, (ii) a global reorganization of the atmospheric Walker circulation induced in the tropical Pacific and Indian Ocean, and (iii) shifts in the dominating temporal variability pattern of glacial activity during the Middle Pleistocene, respectively. A reexamination of the available fossil record demonstrates statistically significant coincidences between the detected transition periods and major steps in hominin evolution. This result suggests that the observed shifts between more regular and more erratic environmental variability may have acted as a trigger for rapid change in the development of humankind in Africa.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author:Jonathan F. Donges, Reik Volker DonnerORCiDGND, Martin H. Trauth, Norbert Marwan, Hans Joachim SchellnhuberORCiDGND, Jürgen KurthsORCiDGND
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1117052108
ISSN:0027-8424 (print)
Parent Title (English):Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Publisher:National Acad. of Sciences
Place of publication:Washington
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Year of first Publication:2011
Year of Completion:2011
Release Date:2017/03/26
Tag:African climate; Plio-Pleistocene; climate-driven evolution; dynamical transitions; nonlinear time series analysis
Volume:108
Issue:51
Pagenumber:6
First Page:20422
Last Page:20427
Funder:Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) research group [1380]; Leibniz Association; Federal Ministry for Education and Research via the Potsdam Research Cluster for Georisk Analysis, Environmental Change and Sustainability (PROGRESS); DFG Graduate School of Earth Sciences [GRK 1364]; German National Academic Foundation
Organizational units:Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Physik und Astronomie
Peer Review:Referiert