The reason for the first humans in Europe to be completely exterminated is named
A significant cooling of the climate in southern Europe probably led to the complete extinction of the first humans on the continent about 1.1 million years ago. This version of events casts doubt on the generally accepted theory of continuous settlement of Europe by primitive people.
This was shared by scientists in a study published in Science. They believe that glacial cooling pushed the climate to a level that archaic people could not withstand.
As recounted in the study, the oldest human remains found in Europe suggest that early humans arrived on the continent from southwest Asia about 1.4 million years ago.
Back then, the climate in Europe was generally warm and humid. There were also cold periods, but milder ones. The current theory is that primitive humans were able to adapt to multiple climate cycles, allowing them to later survive more severe conditions 900,000 years ago. But the new study suggests that this may not have been the case.
"Our discovery of extreme glacial cooling around 1.1 million years ago casts doubt on the idea of continuous settlement of Europe by primitive humans," explained the study's senior author, Professor Chronis Tяedakis.
The scientists came to this conclusion by analyzing the chemical composition of marine microorganisms and pollen content in the core of deep-sea sediment off the coast of Portugal. During the study, they found evidence of abrupt climate change that culminated in extreme glacial cooling, when ocean surface temperatures off Lisbon dropped below 6°C and turned part of the surrounding area into a semi-desert.
Lead author of the study, Dr. Vasiliki Margari, also revealed that this cooling "was comparable to some of the most severe events of recent ice ages."
"A cooling of this magnitude would have put small groups of hunter-gatherers under considerable stress, especially as early humans may have lacked adaptations such as adequate fat insulation, as well as the means to build fire, effective clothing or shelter," added study co-author Professor Nick Ashton.
To assess the impact of climate on early human populations, scientists ran simulations on the Aleph supercomputer that reflected the extreme conditions of the time. By combining the simulation results with fossil and archaeological evidence, the researchers were able to develop a human habitat model that suggests how suitable the environment was for early human settlement.
"The results show that the climate around the Mediterranean 1.1 million years ago became too hostile for archaic humans," Prof. Axel Timmermann told the paper.
The scientists note that the paleoclimatic data and modeling results indicate that Iberia (where the remains of the oldest humans in Europe have been found) and, southern Europe in general were extinct during the early Pleistocene. The apparent absence of stone tools and human remains for the next 200,000 years further raises the possibility that no ancient humans lived on the continent at all for a long time.
"Thus, Europe could have been repopulated around 900,000 years ago by hardier humans with evolutionary or behavioral changes that allowed them to survive the increasing intensity of the Ice Age," concluded study co-author Professor Chris Stringer.
Earlier OBOZREVATEL spoke about the fact that a skull of a previously unknown species of ancient people was found in China.