Human Evolution And Climate Change Broad Topic: Climate Change And Evolution

2844 words - 11 pages

Human Evolution and Climate ChangeBroad Topic: Climate Change and EvolutionEcological Change:BackgroundEarth's climatic history during the period of evolution of ancient species leading up to the present day human include fluctuations in cooling, drying, and wider climate changes. This research assesses how the changing environment affects the evolution of early hominin species leading to our own species in terms of biology and evolution (Climate Effects on Human Evolution).How do we determine the environmental fluctuations in temperature?Deep sea cores can be analyzed for the ratio of two oxygen isotopes which then indicates changing temperature or glacial ice over time. The two trends observed from these cores are an overall decrease in temperature and development of a larger degree of climate fluctuation (Climate Effects on Human Evolution).Carbon isotope excursion measures carbon dioxide and methane gases release into the atmosphere. Therefore, the higher the carbon release, the higher the temperature will be (Cachel).Types of environmental changeUnpredictable shifts in temperature or precipitation can cause dramatic changes in vegetation, such as from grasslands to forests and from extremely cold to extremely warm climates (Climate Effects on Human Evolution). Some species were driven to extinction by the advancing and retreating ice ages, while some species were forced to develop larger brains. (O'Neil).TectonicsIn northern China the uplift of the Tibetan Plateau changed rainfall patterns (Climate Effects on Human Evolution).Tectonic activity can change the location and size of lakes and rivers and therefore changing the availability of certain resources (Climate Effects on Human Evolution).The Indian Plate slamming into the Asian plate created the Himalayas that changed the pattern of rainfall, bringing in never before seen amounts of rainfall into the Indian and African subcontinents (Walking with Cavemen).D. Hypotheses of evolutionHabitat-Specific Hypothesis: certain adaptations are associated with specific habitats (Climate Effects on Human Evolution).The expanding dry African Savannah may have caused upright walking to be a more beneficial way to move across the open landscape (Climate Effects on Human Evolution).Dr. Rick Potts of the Human Origins Program developed the Variability Selection Hypothesis. This hypothesis states that environmental instability, rather than a single habitat type, is what shapes the evolution of certain human adaptations. Over time, hominins have increased their abilities to cope with a number of different environments, rather than specializing on a single environment (Climate Effects on Human Evolution).Natural selection has resulted in physiological differences such as peripheral vasoconstriction and efficient oxygen extraction that allows the human species to adapt to a great variety of physical environments (Jones 51).Another way organisms can cope with environmental fluctuations is through genetic...

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