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Title: Sustainable human population density in Western Europe between 560.000 and 360.000 years ago
Authors: Rodríguez, Jesús
Willmes, Christian
Sommer, Christian
Mateos Cachorro, Ana
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Springer Nature
Citation: Scientific Reports, 2022, 12, 6907
Abstract: The time period between 560 and 360 ka (MIS14 to MIS11) was critical for the evolution of the Neanderthal lineage and the appearance of Levallois technology in Europe. The shifts in the distribution of the human populations, driven by cyclical climate changes, are generally accepted to have played major roles in both processes. We used a dataset of palaeoclimate maps and a species distribution model to reconstruct the changes in the area of Western Europe with suitable environmental conditions for humans during 11 time intervals of the MIS14 to MIS 11 period. Eventually, the maximum sustainable human population within the suitable area during each time interval was estimated by extrapolating the relationship observed between recent hunter-gatherer population density and net primary productivity and applying it to the past. Contrary to common assumptions, our results showed the three Mediterranean Peninsulas were not the only region suitable for humans during the glacial periods. The estimated total sustainable population of Western Europe from MIS14 to MIS11 oscillated between 13,000 and 25,000 individuals. These results offer a new theoretical scenario to develop models and hypotheses to explain cultural and biological evolution during the Middle Pleistocene in Western Europe.
ISSN: 2045-2322
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-10642-w
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Type: Article
Appears in Collections:Paleobiología

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