Re: Hominid Altitudinal-Latitudinal Adaptations (gettin long)

Dan Barnes (
Mon, 28 Oct 1996 19:05:47 GMT

In article <01bbc21a$bc344120$042770c2@default>,

>> >1. Was H. archaic a cold temperate climatic adaptation?
>> I'm not too sure about who you're talking about here.
>Archaic H.s. were
>> widespread throughtout a variety of climatic areas
>(although I don't agree with
>> the name).
>JW: Thank you Dan. I'm sure you are just the man I need to
>sort this out.
>If H. erectus was a warm temperate adaptation, and H.
>neanderthal was a tundra adaptation, was there a cold
>temperate adapted hominid? And if so, what is its modern

>From my reading of Ruff's work it would seem to suggest that Apiths were
hot/humid adapted, H.e. hot/dry and N's where a cold adapted species. I doubt
they where properly adapted to a tundra enivronment since they occur in Spain
and the Levant where they seem to have had long periods of habitation. So a
cold temperate hominid is the Neanderthal.

>> >2. Was H. neanderthal a tundra climatic adaptation?
>> Yes.
>JW: In view of what Anton Uriarte has said concerning uvb
>radiation, do you think that the H. neanderthal followed
>the usual altitudinal-latitudinal route from the equatorial
>tundra altitudes to the tundra latitudes? Or do you think
>H. neanderthal's adaptation was a purely regional

I don't think that changes in UV-B would prove a strong enough adaptational
pressure to neccesarily cause change in behaviour as the Tasmanians and
Andeans demonstrate (in these cases it seems sexual selection resulted in
these climatic disadvantageous pigmentation - which sounds a bit highbrow for
me!). I'm not sure what this altitudinal latitude route is or from where to where -
could you expand on this (either John or Anton). On the basis of the regional
adaptation then yes I think they evolved in a northern area (probably Europe and
expanded to other areas (Central Asia, Levant) where they could compete
successfully with other hominids or predators.
>> >4. Was H. sapiens a behavioral adaptation to a tundra
>> >Is there any evidence
>> >that it was contemporary with H. neanderthal?
>> H.s. also adapted to the tundra environment in his limb
>lenghts (Ruff, 1994 -
>> below). He was a contemporary for 70 ka in the Levant but
>Europe is still being
>> argued over (it may be at least 5 ka).
>JW: Do you think this would have to be a behavioural

If you mean the change in distal limb proportions in AMHs in Europe then the
answer is no. The earliest AMHs were (as mentioned in Ruff) of similar climatic
adaptations as would be found in Algeria (this is the biliac width). However, as
the Ice Age climate deteriorated distal limb proportions shorthened as a
climatic adaptation.

>> >5. Likewise, is there any evidence that was
>> >with H. archaic?
>> No. Except possibly in Java (and perhaps China?).
>JW: Does this mean that was a temperate adaptation,
>behavioural or otherwise?

Yes. I belive it is the reason he migrated east first (after leaving Africa) and only
later towards the onset of the UP did he begin to migrate north. First NE to
northern Asia and only later NW to Europe. This may have been due to
extending communication networks allowing greater competition with a hominid
extremely successfully adapted to his environment.

>> >6. In view of the evidence of habitat destruction by
>, could
>> >this behaviour have
>> >started at the inception of the specie?
>> >
>> If you mean the chopping down of the rainforests, etc.
>then there is an
>> arguement that he was responsible for megafauna
>extinction in the Americas
>> and Australia. I'm not too sure about the link with
>seasonal burning that the
>> indigenous peoples did to regulate the plant growth.
>JW: I'm thinking here of elimination of competing
>predators, which is well documented in the historical
>record. If this started as a behavioural adaptation at the
>inception of evolution, the resulting expansion of
>prey animals could have severely disrupted the floral
>ecologies -- with a consequential impact on contemporary
>hominid specie.
>Am I right in thinking that many competing predators became
>extinct during the first 100 kyrs of existence?
This is something I'm not too sure about (you could ask this question in a more
specific palaeontology news group) from a quick think about this point I would
say that, from a European perspective, that most predators e.g. wolves and
bears only became extinct in the Middle Ages and later due to hunting, loss of
habitat to increasing populations, etc. However, if AMHs were responsible for
the extinction of megafauna (a case I don't feel has been decided - although I'd
say maybe) then this would have an impact on large predators like lions etc. Its
an interesting question and one I don't have answers for - it may depend on the
regions we discuss since bears and wolves are relatively common outside of
western Europe. Also Ns hunted megafauna, sometimes in large numbers
(Zwolen, La Cotte de St. Brelade) and there seemed to be little effect on

This is starting to get a bit long and some serious snipping is needed soon.
Hope this answers some questions - and this is, I stress just my 'take' on the
whole situation (from a recent replacement from Africa point of view) - I'm sure
other people have other views and I'd be interested to hear them.