How has Earth’s geology shaped human evolution?

21 February
21 February

It’s shaped the evolution of life on our planet because we have plate tectonics, the nutrient cycle, without which life might not be possible. To have a core - a liquid core - builds up the magnetic field. A magnetic field allows protection from all different types of radiation and solar flares, and all that type of stuff. So the geology of Earth very much influences the path of life.

The surface of Earth is a relatively stable environment. Here and there you have earthquakes and volcanic eruptions but in general it’s relatively stable. And of course that majorly affected human evolution. Because if we’d had one volcanic eruption after another - and all the toxic clouds that would have been produced - then it would have been very difficult for human evolution.

So you have to have some kind of downtime or quiet time to evolve the species. But on the other hand you have to have some environmental challenges like the Ice Age. We still don’t know 100 per cent what caused the Ice Ages, but that was a challenge to the human species.

As tough as it is for the species, if you have those challenges then evolution is enhanced

Neanderthals didn’t quite make it when it became warm again, in comparison to homo sapiens. But you need the challenges. As tough as it is for the species, if you have those challenges then evolution is enhanced. You’re getting better. You try to solve things and so on and so forth.

Of course there’s an element of this being a double-edged sword. The Ice Age came and the world immediately became a less stable place. There were fewer resources, there was more fighting and fewer individuals survived. But on the other hand it enhanced human survival skills. Humans got better. They got better at hunting. Humans probably had to communicate better with their fellow men. They had to make their spears sharper, and bigger…

"Geologically speaking the environment definitely affected human evolution"

So it worked both ways, but geologically speaking the environment definitely affected human evolution. If you think about geology, flint is better at piercing through an elephant or another mammal than a normal rock. And if you can make them sharper or even better make them into axes this enhances your survival chances.

Humans were very good at using the resources available to them - for example the black rock from volcanic eruptions. The first civilisations were based in caves - a natural shelter.

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