Reconstructing high-resolution paleoenvironmental contexts of hominin evolution through core records at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania

Non-FAU Project

Project Details

Project leader:
Prof. Dr. Harald Stollhofen

Contributing FAU Organisations:
Lehrstuhl für Geologie (Exogene Dynamik)

Funding source: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Start date: 01/09/2016
End date: 31/08/2019

Research Fields

Climate & palaeoenvironment
Lehrstuhl für Geologie (Exogene Dynamik)

Abstract (technical / expert description):

The environmental hypotheses of human evolution postulate that climate-derived environmental

changes and tectonic forcing were the driving factors of the evolution of African fauna, including

early humans. In these models, major evolutionary events were associated with African climate

change at 2.7-2.5 Ma, 1.9-1.6 Ma and 1-0.7 Ma intervals, which appear to coincide with the

timing of key evolutionary milestones in human history. Recent scientific drilling in various

paleolakes of the East African Rift has produced multiple high-resolution records of climate

variability, which can be used to reconstruct the regional climate history. However, previous

attempts to test the environmental hypotheses by applying this record directly to human evolution

have been limited by the difficulty of linking core records directly to time-equivalent outcrops

containing the fossil and archaeological record. We will therefore apply a novel approach

in archaeology - a combination of tephrostratigraphic and sequence stratigraphic concepts.

External Partners

Indiana University
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
The University of Liverpool


Colcord, D.E., Shilling, A.M., Freeman, K.H., Njau, J.K., Stanistreet, I.G., Stollhofen, H.,... Brassell, S.C. (2019). Aquatic biomarkers record Pleistocene environmental changes at Paleolake Olduvai, Tanzania. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 524, 250-261.
Stanistreet, I.G., McHenry, L.J., Stollhofen, H., & de la Torre, I. (2018). Bed II Sequence Stratigraphic context of EF-HR and HWK EE archaeological sites, and the Oldowan/Acheulean succession at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Journal of Human Evolution.
Colcord, D.E., Shilling, A.M., Sauer, P.E., Freeman, K.H., Njau, J.K., Stanistreet, I.G.,... Brassell, S.C. (2018). Sub-Milankovitch paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental variability in East Africa recorded by Pleistocene lacustrine sediments from Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 495, 284-291.

Last updated on 2018-22-11 at 16:47