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Health

Ending the Ice Ages

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanFebruary 23, 2012 12:58 PM

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We Are All Panamanians:

When the Isthmus of Panama rose from the sea, it may have changed the climate of Africa--and encouraged the evolution of humans. The emergence of the Isthmus of Panama has been credited with many milestones in Earth’s history. When it rose from the sea some 3 million years ago, the isthmus provided a bridge for the migration of animals between North and South America, forever changing the fauna of both continents. It also blocked a current that once flowed west from Africa to Asia, diverting it northward to strengthen the Gulf Stream. Now Steven Stanley, a paleobiologist at Johns Hopkins, says that that change in currents may be behind yet another major event: the evolution of humans. When the isthmus rearranged the ocean, he says, it triggered a series of ice ages that in turn had a crucial impact on the evolution of hominids in Africa.

Question: do we have enough nukes to re-open the isthmus?

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