National Academy of Sciencies Report Advocates Enhanced Study of the Effects of Climate on Human Evolution

16 03 2010

A March 3 report released by the National Academy of Sciences advocates enhanced study of the effects of past climate change on human evolution.  Noting that “knowledge of how past climate may have influenced human evolution could be enhanced with a cross-disciplinary research program to improve human fossil and climate records,” the report would have researchers “focus on locating new fossil sites, drilling on land and in lakes and ocean basins in areas where humans evolved, investing in climate modeling experiments, and enhancing public outreach.”

Homo erectus from Tautavel, France (reconstruction, Museum Tautavel).  Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons by Gerbil.  Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

Homo erectus from Tautavel, France (reconstruction, Museum Tautavel)

The report lays out a 10- to 20-year plan of research that would improve understanding of the ancient climate and how that influenced human evolution.  The plan would allow researchers to greatly increase the breadth of data and specimen collection, obtaining samples and fossils in new geographic areas and over time periods not currently covered.  Special emphasis would be given to areas where human evolution occurred.

In addition, money would be provided for enhancing climate modeling capabilities in order to help scientists reconstruct more accurate models of past environments.

For the press release and the complete report, please see the following link:

http://www.nationalacademies.org/morenews/20100303a.html

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