The fascinating world of Homo sapiens and their journey during the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition in Europe. It explores new findings that Homo sapiens reached the higher latitudes of Europe around 45,000 years ago, much before the extinction of late Neanderthals in southwestern Europe. It further discusses the implications of these findings on our understanding of human evolution.
The transition from the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic period in Europe is a pivotal epoch in human history, marking the regional disappearance of Neanderthals and the spread of Homo sapiens. While late Neanderthals continued to persist in Western Europe for several millennia, even after Homo sapiens appeared in Eastern Europe, the interactions between these two groups and the precise timeline of events have long been a subject of debate among scientists.
“The past has a light of its own, and those who lived it have a story to tell.”
Discoveries at Ilsenhöhle in Ranis, Germany
Recent archaeological findings have shed new light on these questions. A study conducted at the site Ilsenhöhle in Ranis, Germany, presents the morphological and proteomic taxonomic identification, mitochondrial DNA analysis, and direct radiocarbon dating of human remains associated with an LRJ assemblage. LRJ, or the Lincombian–Ranisian–Jerzmanowician technocomplex, has been observed in northwestern and central Europe during this transitional period, but the identity of its makers remained undetermined until now. This research concludes that these human remains are among the earliest directly dated Upper Palaeolithic Homo sapiens remains in Eurasia.
A Patchwork of Distinct Human Populations
The results of this study not only provide crucial evidence that early Homo sapiens were present in central and northwestern Europe long before the extinction of late Neanderthals in southwestern Europe, but they also reinforce the hypothesis of a patchwork of distinct human populations and technocomplexes existing in Europe during this transitional period. The presence of Homo sapiens in higher latitudes of Europe around 45,000 years ago challenges previous assumptions about the timeline of human evolution and migration. It opens up new avenues for research and exploration.
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