Michael D. Petraglia

Michael D. Petraglia
Griffith University · Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution

PhD
Michael Petraglia is Director of the Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution, Griffith University

About

293
Publications
217,992
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
10,855
Citations
Citations since 2017
108 Research Items
7225 Citations
201720182019202020212022202302004006008001,0001,2001,400
201720182019202020212022202302004006008001,0001,2001,400
201720182019202020212022202302004006008001,0001,2001,400
201720182019202020212022202302004006008001,0001,2001,400
Introduction
I am Director of the Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution (Brisbane, Australia), a Honorary Professor at the University of Queensland, and a Research Associate in the Human Origins Program, Smithsonian Institution (USA).
Additional affiliations
March 2022 - present
Griffith University
Position
  • Director
January 2020 - present
The University of Queensland
Position
  • Honorary Professor
July 2016 - February 2022
Education
September 1984 - October 1987
PhD, University of New Mexico
Field of study
  • Archaeology

Publications

Publications (293)
Book
Full-text available
How have humans colonised the entire planet and reshaped its ecosystems in the process? This unique and groundbreaking collection of essays explores human movement through time, the impacts of these movements on landscapes and other species, and the ways in which species have co-evolved and transformed each other as a result. Exploring the spread o...
Article
Full-text available
Tropical forests constitute some of the most diverse and complex terrestrial ecosystems on the planet. From the Miocene onward, they have acted as a backdrop to the ongoing evolution of our closest living relatives, the great apes, and provided the cradle for the emergence of early hominins, who retained arboreal physiological adaptations at least...
Article
Full-text available
Readable link: http://rdcu.be/kt5n High-coverage whole-genome sequence studies have so far focused on a limited number of geographically restricted populations or been targeted at specific diseases, such as cancer. Nevertheless, the availability of high-resolution genomic data has led to the development of new methodologies for inferring populatio...
Article
Full-text available
The exhibition of increasingly intensive and complex niche construction behaviors through time is a key feature of human evolution, culminating in the advanced capacity for ecosystem engineering exhibited by Homo sapiens. A crucial outcome of such behaviors has been the dramatic reshaping of the global biosphere, a transformation whose early origin...
Article
Full-text available
Recent archaeological investigations in Sri Lanka have reported evidence for the exploita- tion and settlement of tropical rainforests by Homo sapiens since c. 48,000 BP. Information on technological approaches used by human populations in rainforest habitats is restricted to two cave sites, Batadomba-lena and Fa-Hien Lena. Here, we provide detaile...
Article
Full-text available
Among the rock art in Arabia, a little-known Neolithic tradition of large, naturalistic camel depictions stands out. Their geographic distribution and stylistic traits suggest close links with the Camel Site reliefs. Four newly documented panels appear to have been carved by the same individual (or group), tracing repeated movements over hundreds o...
Article
Full-text available
Homo sapiens was present in northern Asia by around 40,000 years ago, having replaced archaic populations across Eurasia after episodes of earlier population expansions and interbreeding1–4. Cultural adaptations of the last Neanderthals, the Denisovans and the incoming populations of H. sapiens into Asia remain unknown1,5–7. Here we describe Xiamab...
Article
Full-text available
The Oldowan represents the earliest recurrent evidence of human material culture and one of the longest-lasting forms of technology. Its appearance across the African continent amid the Plio-Pleistocene profound ecological transformations, and posterior dispersal throughout the Old World is at the foundation of hominin technological dependence. How...
Article
Full-text available
The indigenous population of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has a unique demographic and cultural history. Its tradition of endogamy and consanguinity is expected to produce genetic homogeneity and partitioning of gene pools while population movements and intercontinental trade are likely to have contributed to genetic diversity. Emiratis and neigh...
Article
The Holocene of eastern Africa saw extreme climatic fluctuations between hyper-humid and arid conditions, which manifested differently across the region's lake basins, coastal ecotones, and terrestrial biomes. Changes to resource availability, distribution, and predictability presented different constraints and opportunities to diverse hunter-gathe...
Article
Full-text available
Archaeologists have long emphasized the importance of large-scale excavations and multi-year or even decades-long projects at a single site or site complex. Here, we highlight archaeological field strategies, termed coring, profiling, and trenching (CPT), that rely on relatively small-scale excavations or the collection of new samples from intact d...
Article
Full-text available
Climate variability and hominin evolution are inextricably linked. Yet, hypotheses examining the impact of large-scale climate shifts on hominin landscape ecology are often constrained by proxy data coming from off-site lake and ocean cores and temporal offsets between paleoenvironmental and archaeological records. Additionally, landscape response...
Article
Full-text available
The study of faunal remains from archaeological sites is often complicated by the presence of large numbers of highly fragmented, morphologically unidentifiable bones. In Australia, this is the combined result of harsh preservation conditions and frequent scavenging by marsupial carnivores. The collagen fingerprinting method known as zooarchaeology...
Article
Full-text available
Pleistocene hominin dispersals out of, and back into, Africa necessarily involved traversing the diverse and often challenging environments of Southwest Asia 1–4 . Archaeological and palaeontological records from the Levantine woodland zone document major biological and cultural shifts, such as alternating occupations by Homo sapiens and Neandertha...
Article
Full-text available
The antiquity and nature of coastal resource procurement is central to understanding human evolution and adaptations to complex environments. It has become increasingly apparent in global archaeological studies that the timing, characteristics, and trajectories of coastal resource use are highly variable. Within Africa, discussions of these issues...
Article
Full-text available
Plant wax biomarkers are an innovative proxy for reconstructing vegetation composition and structure, rainfall intensity, temperature, and other climatic and environmental dynamics. Traditionally used in earth sciences and climate studies from “off-site” ocean and lake records, biomarker research is now incorporated in archeology and paleoanthropol...
Article
Full-text available
Studies of modern carnivore accumulations of bone (i.e., neo-taphonomy) are crucial for interpreting fossil accumulations in the archaeological and paleontological records. Yet, studies in arid regions have been limited in both number and detailed taphonomic data, prohibiting our understanding of carnivore bone-accumulating and -modifying behavior...
Article
Full-text available
The transition from hunting to herding transformed the cold, arid steppes of Mongolia and Eastern Eurasia into a key social and economic center of the ancient world, but a fragmentary archaeological record limits our understanding of the subsistence base for early pastoral societies in this key region. Organic material preserved in high mountain ic...
Article
The biological and cultural evolution of hominins in Asia is a central topic of paleoanthropology. Yet, the Paleolithic archaeology of key regions of Asia, including the Iranian plateau, have not been integrated into human evolutionary studies. Here, we examine the prehistory of the Iranian plateau with a focus on Iran, one of the largest and archa...
Article
Hearth sites are characteristic of Holocene occupation in the Arabian sand seas but remain mostly unstudied. Excavations of two multi-period hearth sites in the Jebel Oraf palaeolake basin, in the oasis of Jubbah, now substantially increase our knowledge of these sites. In total, 17 of 170 identified hearths were excavated at Jebel Oraf 2 (ORF2), a...
Article
Full-text available
Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5, ~ 130 to 71 thousand years ago, was a key period for the geographic expansion of Homo sapiens, including engagement with new landscapes within Africa and dispersal into Asia. Occupation of the Levant by Homo sapiens in MIS 5 is well established, while recent research has documented complementary evidence in Arabia. Her...
Article
Full-text available
The Arabian Peninsula is a critical geographic landmass situated between Africa and the rest of Eurasia. Climatic shifts across the Pleistocene periodically produced wetter conditions in Arabia, dramatically altering the spatial distribution of hominins both within and between continents. This is particularly true of Acheulean hominins, who appear...
Article
Full-text available
The origin and evolution of hominin mortuary practices are topics of intense interest and debate1–3. Human burials dated to the Middle Stone Age (MSA) are exceedingly rare in Africa and unknown in East Africa1–6. Here we describe the partial skeleton of a roughly 2.5- to 3.0-year-old child dating to 78.3 ± 4.1 thousand years ago, which was recovere...
Article
Full-text available
The morphological differentiation of African bovids in highly fragmented zooarchaeological assemblages is a major hindrance to reconstructing the nature and spread of pastoralism in sub-Saharan Africa. Here we employ collagen peptide mass fingerprinting, known as Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (ZooMS), coupled with recently published African Z...
Article
The Middle to Later Stone Age transition is a critical period of human behavioral change that has been variously argued to pertain to the emergence of modern cognition, substantial population growth, and major dispersals of Homo sapiens within and beyond Africa. However, there is little consensus about when the transition occurred, the geographic p...
Article
Despite its harsh and arid conditions, the Gobi Desert has played an important role in shaping Holocene populations , including the transition from hunting to herding lifeways. Here we present three newly documented rock art sites in the Gobi-Altai Mountains of south-central Mongolia, a cave (Gazar Agui 1), a rock shelter (Gazar Agui 13) and an ope...
Article
Full-text available
Megafaunal extinctions are recurring events that cause evolutionary ripples, as cascades of secondary extinctions and shifting selective pressures reshape ecosystems. Megafaunal browsers and grazers are major ecosystem engineers, they: keep woody vegetation suppressed; are nitrogen cyclers; and serve as seed dispersers. Most angiosperms possess set...
Article
Full-text available
Though hundreds of caves are known across Mongolia, few have been subject to systematic, interdisciplinary archaeological surveys and excavations to understand Late Pleistocene and Holocene environments. Previous cave excavations in Mongolia have demonstrated their potential for preservation of archaeological and biological material, including Pala...
Article
Full-text available
Neanderthals occurred widely across north Eurasian landscapes, but between ~ 70 and 50 thousand years ago (ka) they expanded southwards into the Levant, which had previously been inhabited by Homo sapiens. Palaeoanthropological research in the first half of the twentieth century demonstrated alternate occupations of the Levant by Neanderthal and Ho...
Article
The geographic and ecological background behind the development and spread of microblade technologies in Asia is a topic of considerable research interest. Microblade technologies are geographically widespread, and present in southern Siberia, the Russian Far East, Mongolia, northern China, the Korean Peninsula and the Japanese archipelago. Here we...
Article
Full-text available
Consuming the milk of other species is a unique adaptation of Homo sapiens, with implications for health, birth spacing and evolution. Key questions nonetheless remain regarding the origins of dairying and its relationship to the genetically-determined ability to drink milk into adulthood through lactase persistence (LP). As a major centre of LP di...
Article
Full-text available
Rapid environmental change is a catalyst for human evolution, driving dietary innovations, habitat diversification, and dispersal. However, there is a dearth of information to assess hominin adaptions to changing physiography during key evolutionary stages such as the early Pleistocene. Here we report a multiproxy dataset from Ewass Oldupa, in the...
Article
Knowledge about the Early and Middle Pleistocene hominin record of China is steadily increasing owing to the on-going implementation of palaeoanthropological surveys and excavations. Yet, relatively little attention has been paid to the effects of climate variability on hominin populations in China and its influence on archaeological site distribut...
Article
The pandemic will allow us to fundamentally remodel the way field-based sciences are taught, conducted and funded — but only if we stop waiting for a ‘return to normal’.
Article
Full-text available
The nature of human dispersals out of Africa has remained elusive because of the poor resolution of paleoecological data in direct association with remains of the earliest non-African people. Here, we report hominin and non-hominin mammalian tracks from an ancient lake deposit in the Arabian Peninsula, dated within the last interglacial. The findin...
Article
Full-text available
Between 10 and six thousand years ago the Arabian Peninsula saw the most recent of the ‘Green Arabia’ periods, when increased rainfall transformed this generally arid region. The transition to the Neolithic in Arabia occurred during this period of climatic amelioration. Various forms of stone structures are abundant in northern Arabia, and it has b...
Article
Full-text available
New World archaeologists have amply demonstrated that fluted point technology is specific to Terminal Pleistocene American cultures. Base-fluted, and rarer tip-fluted, projectile points from the Americas have been well-documented by archaeologists for nearly a century. Fluting is an iconic stone tool manufacturing method and a specific action that...
Preprint
Full-text available
Environmental change is key for human evolution, especially at times of anatomical and behavioral change in life histories, such as the origin of meat consumption, economic diversification, and dispersal. However, for the earliest phase of human evolution featuring the technology-dependent hominins that shaped our lineage since 2.6 Ma, the Oldowan,...
Article
Archaeological surveys and excavations in the Jebel Oraf palaeolake basin, north-western Saudi Arabia, have identified a well-preserved early- to mid-Holocene landscape. Two types of occupation site can be distinguished: nine small and ephemeral scatters from single occupation phases on the slopes of sand dunes and three hearth sites indicative of...
Article
Full-text available
A taxonomic and taphonomic study of Pleistocene fossil deposits from the western Nefud Desert, Saudi Arabia – Addendum - Mathew Stewart, Julien Louys, Paul S. Breeze, Richard Clark-Wilson, Nick A. Drake, Eleanor M.L. Scerri, Iyad S. Zalmout, Yahya S. A. Al-Mufarreh, Saleh A. Soubhi, Mohammad A. Haptari, Abdullah M. Alsharekh, Huw S. Groucutt, Micha...
Article
Full-text available
Africa hosts the greatest human genetic diversity globally, but legacies of ancient population interactions and dispersals across the continent remain understudied. Here, we report genome-wide data from 20 ancient sub-Saharan African individuals, including the first reported ancient DNA from the DRC, Uganda, and Botswana. These data demonstrate the...
Article
Full-text available
Archaeologists contend that it was our aptitude for symbolic, technological, and social behaviors that was central to Homo sapiens rapidly expanding across the majority of Earth’s continents during the Late Pleistocene. This expansion included movement into extreme environments and appears to have resulted in the displacement of numerous archaic hu...
Article
Significance Over the last 12,000 y, humans have faced a variety of challenges from climatic variability, either leading to a wide range of technological, economic and cultural responses, or societal collapse. In southeastern Arabia, ancient droughts appear to have corresponded with the decline of inland occupations and population movements to reso...
Article
Full-text available
The interplay between Pleistocene climatic variability and hominin adaptations to diverse terrestrial ecosystems is a key topic in human evolutionary studies. Early and Middle Pleistocene environmental change and its relation to hominin behavioural responses has been a subject of great interest in Africa and Europe, though little information is ava...
Article
African Middle Stone Age (MSA) populations used pigments, manufactured and wore personal ornaments, made abstract engravings, and produced fully shaped bone tools. However, ongoing research across Africa reveals variability in the emergence of cultural innovations in the MSA and their subsequent development through the Later Stone Age (LSA). When p...
Article
Full-text available
Over the past decade, a growing interest has developed on the archaeology, palaeontology, and palaeoenvironments of the Arabian Peninsula. It is now clear that hominins repeatedly dispersed into Arabia, notably during pluvial interglacial periods when much of the peninsula was characterised by a semiarid grassland environment. During the intervenin...
Article
Full-text available
India is located at a critical geographic crossroads for understanding the dispersal of Homo sapiens out of Africa and into Asia and Oceania. Here we report evidence for long-term human occupation, spanning the last ~80 thousand years, at the site of Dhaba in the Middle Son River Valley of Central India. An unchanging stone tool industry is found a...
Article
Sri Lanka has produced the earliest clear evidence for Homo sapiens fossils in South Asia and research in the region has provided important insights into modern human adaptations and cultural practices during the last ca. 45,000 years. However, in-depth multidisciplinary analyses of Late Pleistocene and Holocene sequences remain limited to just two...
Article
Full-text available
The Nihewan Basin of China preserves one of the most important successions of Paleolithic archeological sites in Eurasia. Stratified archeological sites and mammalian fossils, first reported in the 1920s, continue to be recovered in large-scale excavation projects. Here, we review key findings from archeological excavations in the Nihewan Basin ran...
Article
Full-text available
Microliths–small, retouched, often-backed stone tools–are often interpreted to be the product of composite tools, including projectile weapons, and efficient hunting strategies by modern humans. In Europe and Africa these lithic toolkits are linked to hunting of medium- and large-sized game found in grassland or woodland settings, or as adaptations...
Article
Full-text available
Drivers of Late Quaternary megafaunal extinctions are relevant to modern conservation policy in a world of growing human population density, climate change, and faunal decline. Traditional debates tend toward global solutions, blaming either dramatic climate change or dispersals of Homo sapiens to new regions. Inherent limitations to archaeological...
Article
The ecological adaptations that stimulated the dispersal and technological strategies of our species during the Late Pleistocene remain hotly disputed, with some influential theories focusing on grassland biomes or marine resources as key drivers behind the rapid expansion and material culture innovations of Homo sapiens within and beyond Africa. H...
Article
Full-text available
We challenge the view that our species, Homo sapiens, evolved within a single population and/or region of Africa. Genetic data are consistent with a diverse and subdivided African ancestry, potentially including gene flow with currently unidentified African archaic populations. The chronology and physical diversity of Pleistocene human fossils also...
Article
In recent years, the Arabian Peninsula has emerged as a key region for elucidating hominin and faunal evolution and dispersals between Africa and Eurasia. Central to this research is the middle Pleistocene site of Ti's al Ghadah (TAG) which has yielded a diverse and abundant fossil faunal assemblage and the earliest chronometrically dated evidence...
Article
Full-text available
The adaptability of our species, as revealed by the geographic routes and palaeoenvironmental contexts of human dispersal beyond Africa, is a prominent topic in archaeology and palaeoanthropology. Northern and Central Asia have largely been neglected as it has been assumed that the deserts and mountain ranges of these regions acted as 'barriers', f...