via Scientific Reports, 18 August 2021: A new paper by Suraprasit et al. examines tooth enamel from Tham Lod to understand the prehistoric landscapes of Southeast Asia’s highlands.
The late Pleistocene settlement of highland settings in mainland Southeast Asia by Homo sapiens has challenged our species’s ability to occupy mountainous landscapes that acted as physical barriers to the expansion into lower-latitude Sunda islands during sea-level lowstands. Tham Lod Rockshelter in highland Pang Mapha (northwestern Thailand), dated between 34,000 and 12,000 years ago, has yielded evidence of Hoabinhian lithic assemblages and natural resource use by hunter-gatherer societies. To understand the process of early settlements of highland areas, we measured stable carbon and oxygen isotope compositions of Tham Lod human and faunal tooth enamel. Our assessment of the stable carbon isotope results suggests long-term opportunistic behavior among hunter-gatherers in foraging on a variety of food items in a mosaic environment and/or inhabiting an open forest edge during the terminal Pleistocene. This study reinforces the higher-latitude and -altitude extension of a forest-grassland mosaic ecosystem or savanna corridor (farther north into northwestern Thailand), which facilitated the dispersal of hunter-gatherers across mountainous areas and possibly allowed for consistency in a human subsistence strategy and Hoabinhian technology in the highlands of mainland Southeast Asia over a 20,000-year span near the end of the Pleistocene.
Source: Late Pleistocene human paleoecology in the highland savanna ecosystem of mainland Southeast Asia | Scientific Reports
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