Multi-Disciplinary Paleoenvironmental Context for the Integration of the Lower Colorado River Corridor, Bouse Formation, CA-AZ, USA, and Middle to Late Pleistocene Human Evolution, the Koora Plain, Southern Kenya
AdvisorCohen, Andrew S.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
EmbargoRelease after 01-Sep-2021
AbstractSince the seminal works of Wegener and Darwin the notion that things evolve, and the how and the why of it, has generated intense debate. The surface of the Earth, and the creatures that live on it, are not static entities. Landscapes evolve. Organisms evolve. Understanding the how and the why requires a firm understanding of a myriad of interdependent and complex variables such as (but not limited to) climate, ecology, and tectonics. Unravelling the complexities though which landscapes and ecosystems evolve requires a broad interdisciplinary approach, where multiple investigative tools are simultaneously brought to bear on a given question. The study of old lake sediments, or paleolimnology, is a marquee example of a powerful interdisciplinary methodology that has been used extensively in reconstructing the Earth's past. This work showcases two examples where the discipline of paleolimnology advances our understanding of evolution on a landscape scale and on a human scale. In the southwestern United States, a record of the processes involved during the late Miocene and early Pliocene (~ 5 Ma) evolution of a major continental river drainage - the Colorado River – is partially preserved along the southern border of Arizona and California as the enigmatic Bouse Formation. And in southern Kenya, nearly 170 meters of lake and wetland sediments that have accumulated in the Koora Plain preserve a one-million-year long record of the environmental conditions against which our species, Homo sapiens, evolved. My research allows me to conclude that the depositional environment of the Bouse Formation was lacustrine; a fully marine interpretation that has been previously proposed is untenable. I also demonstrate that over the past 1.0 Ma, Homo sapiens in southern Kenya evolved against a backdrop of increasing regional aridity.
Degree ProgramGraduate College