Were there benefits to humans moving out of Africa into cold areas?

Africa seems like it was a pretty good place to be. You didn’t have to worry about being cold anywhere near as much as in Europe, North-ish Asia or North America. The expansion could have happened while staying within warm areas like the Middle-East, India or Indochina. Besides simply having more people and land, were there benefits to going into areas where the cold could be dangerous for long periods of the year?

“Humans” here encompasses all species of the homo genus.
“Cold” here means not just ice & snow but also UK or Netherlands-like weather.
“Benefits” could also include changes to humanity itself as a result of being in a cold environment.

Well I guess it was a good thing as certain technological invention may not have taken place if we stayed in Africa. From what I understand different environments led to the need for certain types of inventions. Humans domesticated animals once we left Africa I think.

Moving northward leads to lands that are considerably wetter, thus more suitable/reliable in growing food crops. (Much of Africa is drier, even desert. And areas like Egypt are dependent on irrigation from the Nile.) Areas like the Ukraine, and around the Mediterranean Sea are wonderful food producing areas.

But I think that a major reason for this migration (and most others in human history) is pressure from conflicts with neighboring clans/tribes/nations. People covet their neighbors’ lands, and force them to move.

The human brain is sort of like a super ramped up version of evolution. It allows us to adapt to new situations in a few hours rather than a few generations.

Given that our competition in the ecosystem is similarly-sized animals, that ability means that we will generally out-compete them, because we can adapt faster than they can. As such, our numbers are not constrained by any predator, just food availability. And while that is a pretty hard limit, footing it over to the next valley is a pretty easy remedy and, again, we’ll just figure out ways to adapt once we’re there by adding clothing, building a fire, finding insulating materials to build structures out of, etc. should it happen to be a bit colder.

It’s not so much that we were trying to get out of Africa or find colder areas, we were just forcibly migratory by our very nature and ability to exhaust the landscape wherever we went.

People migrated slowly, over generations. Move a few thousand miles north in a year, you notice the temperature falling. Move a few thousand miles north over a few hundred years, not so much. “Yes, great-grampa, you’ve told us that winters were slightly warmer when you were a kid…”

Fire and tools do help us find new places to live, even today :wink:

There was a lack of suitable domesticable animals in Africa, but I doubt that’s the reason humans migrated out. And I’m not sure about wetter climate either because I’m pretty sure Africa was wetter then, and the move happened long before agriculture. I’m not sure anyone has or can have a definitive answer to this.

Note here that I’m not asking about their goals or intent but the possible benefits. Those may be intended but don’t need to be. It’s quite possible that homo erectus moved out of Africa for one reason like not wanting to get killed by the nearby tribe but that moving to colder areas had major benefits which were unintentional.

I made a mistake in putting emphasis on the move out of Africa. I should have asked specifically about colder areas versus Africa and other warm areas like India. Humans living in Europe and East Asia seem to have done better than those living in warmer areas, even those whose climates and fauna are more suitable for agriculture than Africa’s.

Did they move out of africa pre pangea or post pangea, they may not have had a choice in the matter.

One benefit is that it meant moving away from the place on Earth that had the greatest number of parasites and diseases adapted to prey on humans.

Since Pangea started breaking up 175 million years ago I will speculate that it was post by quite a few years…

The current configuration of the continents predates human migration by millions of years.

EDIT: Ninja’d.

I came here to say the same thing; the first thing that comes to mind is malaria.

The answer is always going to be lebensraum. Space to grow and lack of competition from other humans. Tribal hunter-gatherers require some space and areas not picked over by other tribes. Are there dangers moving to new territory? Sure. But none so bad, long term, as dealing with other humans.

:dubious:
Please tell me that you are not considering modern and transitory economic power?
Civilization as a whole is something like 2% of human history (5000 years v 200,000)
And economic and military powers tend to ebb and flow. In 500 years its very unlikely that any of the present political, military and economic powerhouses will be around anymore. Like the ones from 500 years ago are not.

I think that the OP, and many of the posters, are making an assumption - that there was any kind of intention or direction to the wanderings of the groups of hunter-gatherers.
Such a group, I should think, stayed in an area until the animals had been hunted out, and everything that could be gathered, was. Then they’d move on - whether following a known herd, or just hoping that there would be food in a given direction, probably depended. I’m sure there were groups in Africa that headed north, south, east, or west, until they hit some barrier they couldn’t cross.
Now, when agriculture started going, then there may be other reasons for the group to move on - hostile neighbors, bad weather, whatever. Until then, though, they followed the food.

I agree. The main reason why early humans moved out of an area was probably to find a new area where there weren’t other humans competing for the local food supply.

And, of course, to play soccer.

Malaria was endemic throughout Europe until quite recently. The push behind a lot of swamp-dessication efforts was precisely the recognition of the linkage between “standing waters” and malaria.

If you look at the current hypothesis about early human migrations, you’ll notice that humans indeed did stay originally in hot latitudes. The first migration out of Africa was eastward, more or less in straight line. Very curiously, from eastern Africa, humans had reached eastern Asia before they had ventured into North Africa.

However, if you look at hypothesis about later migrations, it doesn’t seem that humans then systematically populated first the areas closest to these hot regions, only venturing into colder areas when all other land was taken. They seem to follow strange paths, in fact, so maybe this first expansion in hot climate was more due to chance than it looks at first glance (also, within Africa, humans apparently populated the south before the (presumably hotter) west.

ETA : since some people mention Erectus, I’ll add that I refer only to Sapiens here.

This has always been my hunch / speculation (it would be consistent with the idea that a lot of crop plants and other invasive / introduced species thrive best outside their native range), but I’ve never come across any evidence in support of it. Have you?