Paleolithic Population Growth Pulses Evidenced by Small Animal Exploitation
Science January 8, 1999

Mary C. Stiner, Natalie D. Munro, Todd A. Surovell, Eitan Tchernov, Ofer Bar-Yosef

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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