Testing the Variability Selection Hypothesis on Hominin Dispersals - a Multi-agent Model Approach

Author(s): Iza Romanowska; Seth Bullock

Year: 2015


The Variability Selection Hypothesis proposed by Potts (1996; 1998) postulates the evolution of behavioural plasticity among early hominins arising during periods of strong environmental fluctuations in the last 6 million years. It argues that the inconsistency in selection regimes caused by the rapid environmental fluctuations produced particularly strong selection pressure on adapting to change rather than any particular set of conditions (termed 'adaptive complexity', 'adaptive flexibility', 'adaptive versatility', or simply 'versatilists organisms'). The work by Potts was further formalised by Grove (2011) in a single locus model and tested on the temperature curve spanning the last five million years. The current implementation aims to assess the implications of the Variability Selection Hypothesis on the agent’s ability to disperse, a process that is visible in the archaeological record. The model was translated into a stochastic multi-agent simulation to investigate the dynamics between individuals with different positions and range on the adaptative spectrum (including the ‘versatilist’ individuals) within a non-homogenous population. The initial results shows that using heterogeneous multi-agent simulation can successfully replicate Grove’s formal implementation but also sheds new light on how the pattern of dispersal unravels under different environmental regimes.

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Testing the Variability Selection Hypothesis on Hominin Dispersals - a Multi-agent Model Approach. Iza Romanowska, Seth Bullock. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395152)