From: University of Oxford
Published February 7, 2017 09:28 AM

New doubts on whether early humans were forced to start farming

The development of agriculture is universally believed to underpin some of the most significant advances made by humans worldwide. In New Guinea, where one of the earliest human experiments with tropical forest agriculture occurred, researchers have cast doubt on two views about the origins of agriculture.

The study questions the idea that climate variability after the last Glacial period drove such innovation out of necessity. It also throws doubt on the view that early hunter gatherers could not survive successfully in tropical forest environments without domestic crops and animals as they found little evidence for climate variability from 12,000 to 300 years ago. Instead, it appears that the montane tropical forests of New Guinea provided a stable source of subsistence for human hunter-gatherers although farmers also worked the land close by. The findings are published in the early online version of the journal, Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Scholars have regarded tropical forests as unattractive habitats for humans due to their poor soils and high humidity. They were also thought incapable of producing regular sources of food, but archaeological work in New Guinea, among other tropical regions, has overturned this idea as researchers found that humans have occupied areas of this region (today covered in rainforest) for around 45,000 years.

Read more at University of Oxford

Image Credits: Dylan Gaffney

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy

2018©. Copyright Environmental News Network