Proposed Workshop: "African Climate Change and Human Evolution"

Lead PI: Peter B. deMenocal

Unit Affiliation: Biology and Paleo Environment, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

April 2012 - August 2013
Project Type: Research Outreach

DESCRIPTION: This proposal supports a two day workshop to investigate new lines of inquiry into the question 'Did African climate change shape human evolution?' Eighteen world experts in this discipline were assembled at Lamont in April 2012 to clarify the boundary conditions of the question and where advances can be made. The question carries with it some specific and novel lines of investigation so a workshop format would invite the most productive opportunity to advance this question. The meeting focused on Pliocene-Pleistocene East African climate trends, their variability, and evidence for evolutionary and adaptive changes in African mammalian taxa. The recent NSF funded NRC report on ?Understanding Climate?s Influence on Human Evolution? recommends ?a new level of integration of disciplines and training of scholars in ways that motivate the growth of a richly collaborative enterprise.? This workshop enabled these collaborations by gathering specialists from diverse disciplines with the expressed purpose of developing a research path forward to tackle this first order problem.