Report

Paleolithic Population Growth Pulses Evidenced by Small Animal Exploitation

Science  08 Jan 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5399, pp. 190-194
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5399.190

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Abstract

Variations in small game hunting along the northern and eastern rims of the Mediterranean Sea and results from predator-prey simulation modeling indicate that human population densities increased abruptly during the late Middle Paleolithic and again during the Upper and Epi-Paleolithic periods. The demographic pulses are evidenced by increasing reliance on agile, fast-reproducing partridges, hares, and rabbits at the expense of slow-reproducing but easily caught tortoises and marine shellfish and, concurrently, climate-independent size diminution in tortoises and shellfish. The results indicate that human populations of the early Middle Paleolithic were exceptionally small and highly dispersed.

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