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Evidence of different climatic adaptation strategies in humans and non-human primates

Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel

To understand human evolution it is critical to clarify which adaptations enabled our colonisation of novel ecological niches. For any species climate is a fundamental source of environmental stress during range expansion. Mammalian climatic adaptations include changes in size and shape reflected in skeletal dimensions and humans fit general primate ecogeographic patterns. It remains unclear however, whether there are also comparable amounts of adaptation in humans, which has implications for understanding the relative importance of biological/behavioural mechanisms in human evolution. We compare cranial variation between prehistoric human populations from throughout Japan and ecologically comparable groups of macaques. We compare amounts of intraspecific variation and covariation between cranial shape and ecological variables. Given equal rates and sufficient time for adaptation for both groups, human conservation of non-human primate adaptation should result in comparable variation and patterns of covariation in both species. In fact, we find similar amounts of intraspecific variation in both species, but no covariation between shape and climate in humans, contrasting with strong covariation in macaques. The lack of covariation in humans may suggest a disconnect in climatic adaptation strategies from other primates. We suggest this is due to the importance of human behavioural adaptations, which act as a buffer from climatic stress and were likely key to our evolutionary success.
ISSN: 2045-2322
Volume: 9
Aantal pagina's: 1
Jaar van publicatie:2019