Study: African drought changed history

December 7, 2005

Syracuse University scientists say a major African drought about 70,000 years ago possibly changed the course of human history.

The researchers, led by Professor Christopher Scholz of the school's earth sciences department, found sediments drilled from the beds of Lakes Malawi and Tanganyika in East Africa and from Lake Bosumtwi in Ghana contained evidence of a prolonged drought, the BBC reported.

Scholz said it's possible the drought was the reason some of the first humans left Africa and, subsequently, populated the Earth.

The sediment cores indicate that prior to 75,000 years ago, Lake Malawi, currently an inland sea some 340 miles long and about 2,300 feet deep, was reduced to a couple of pools no more than six miles across and about 655 feet deep.

Lake Bosumtwi, currently a 6-mile-wide lake that fills an old impact crater, lost all of its water.

The scientists said only a prolonged, continent-wide drought could have produced such an effect.

Scholz detailed the study this week in San Francisco, during the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Pacific Ocean's response to greenhouse gases could extend California drought for centuries

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Experts disclose new details about 300-year-old shipwreck

May 22, 2018

A Spanish galleon laden with gold that sank to the bottom of the Caribbean off the coast of Colombia more than 300 years ago was found three years ago with the help of an underwater autonomous vehicle operated by the Woods ...

First violins imitated human voices: study

May 22, 2018

Music historians have long suspected that the inventors of the violin wanted to imitate the human voice, and a study out Monday shows how 16th to 18th century luthiers in Italy did it.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.