Where can I find as much detail as possible on the flora and fauna (and perhaps geological structures too) between the time of the origin of Homo Sapiens say ~300kya to their "out of Africa" migration?

I haven't been able to find much research on the topic. I am looking for the types of predators they would have had, the foods they would have eaten, the plants and animals and bugs they would have encountered, etc.. If at all possible.

To put it another way, what are the flora and fauna of the Great Rift Valley.



2 Answers 2


It's a bit outdated, but Quézel (1978) suggests the flora of the Mediterranean region of Africa is not much different than today:

It is concluded that the Mediterranean flora is relatively old and goes back at least as far as the middle Miocene

  • See here for a scale of Geologic time. The middle Miocene would be ~10mya, so the above quote encompasses your time of interest.

However, I personally find this claim to be difficult to believe, especially due to documented variability at smaller scales: (e.g., Moreau 1963, Carlo et al 2009, etc.)

Other literature, unsurprisingly, points toward the fact that humans very likely modified their surroundings in noteworthy ways once on the scene. For example, Thompson et al. 2021:

Archaeological data and principal coordinates analysis indicate that early anthropogenic fire relaxed seasonal constraints on ignitions, influencing vegetation composition and erosion. This operated in tandem with climate-driven changes in precipitation to culminate in an ecological transition to an early, pre-agricultural anthropogenic landscape

Perhaps Gardner (1935) would also be of interest (I don't know, I don't have access).

Conclusion: I don't know the answer and only compiled the above in about 5 minutes of Google Scholar searching. I would guess that both the flora and fauna were likely somewhat dynamic across the time period you're asking about, and certainly, spatial physiognomic heterogeneity exists even today.

To narrow further searching, make sure you're using technical terminology where possible (e.g., late Pleistocene, Chibanian, etc.).


Carto, S.L., Weaver, A.J., Hetherington, R., Lam, Y. and Wiebe, E.C., 2009. Out of Africa and into an ice age: on the role of global climate change in the late Pleistocene migration of early modern humans out of Africa. Journal of human evolution, 56(2), pp.139-151.

Gardner, E.W., 1935. The Pleistocene fauna and flora of Kharga Oasis, Egypt. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, 91(1-4), pp.479-518.

Moreau, R.E., 1963, September. Vicissitudes of the African biomes in the late Pleistocene. In Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (Vol. 141, No. 2, pp. 395-421). Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Quézel, P., 1978. Analysis of the flora of Mediterranean and Saharan Africa. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, pp.479-534.

Thompson, J.C., Wright, D.K., Ivory, S.J., Choi, J.H., Nightingale, S., Mackay, A., Schilt, F., Otárola-Castillo, E., Mercader, J., Forman, S.L. and Pietsch, T., 2021. Early human impacts and ecosystem reorganization in southern-central Africa. Science Advances, 7(19), p.eabf9776.


Early human migrations may have gone through Yemen. The Red Sea rift has become salt flats multiple times because of the ice age, if you find studies of the salt strata please write a new answer.

The science keywords are Pleistocene fauna, flora and Pleistocene ecology.

There were a lot more species/varieties of elephants, hippos, homo, deer, zebra, birds, bears, felines, with large mammal species enduring 1+ million average roughly depending on taxonomic precision. The plants were 90% the same, and plants can move roughly 100km to 10,000km per 1000 years conditions permitting. The green zones moved in a patchwork mosaic that was also tended by herbivores and dependent on climate. Tree species also change in more than 1+ million year ranges, perhaps 5-20, I don't know.

The mountains change yearly by 1cm for granite, 1-10cm limestone 10-50cm flysh and schist, 10-100cm for chalk, and 1+ meters for unconsolidated volcanic. The major changes were therefore climate changes

The rift valley is 5500km long, so It's too complicated to answer.

Here's animals from the holocene:


Here's some info about pleistocene, it's not very a very good list though, best to look at other sources.



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