Homo sapiens arrived in the south of the Iberian Peninsula 44,000 years ago (5,000 years before the date until now) and replaced the Neanderthals in a short time, as it happened in the rest of Western Europe.
Homo sapiens arrived in the south of the Iberian Peninsula 44,000 years ago (5,000 years earlier than now) and replaced the Neanderthals in a short time.
This is the main conclusion of an international study carried out by researchers from Spain, Japan and the United Kingdom, and published this Monday in Nature Ecology & Evolution.
To date the presence of both, scientists have taken into account the remains of the technology of both groups of humans, the Mousterian industry, typically Neanderthal, and the Aurignacian, used by Homo sapiens.
In addition, researchers have carried out new dating of fossils from several European sites, including the Bajoncillo cave, located in the Malaga town of Torremolinos (southeast of Spain).
Until now, previous studies had suggested that the replacement of Neanderthals by modern man in Western Europe had taken place 39,000 years ago, and that this replacement did not reach the south of the Iberian Peninsula until several thousand years later (until 32,000 years).
However, the new radiocarbon dates used in the study indicate that the replacement between modern men and Neanderthals occurred much earlier (about 44,000 years ago) and was a relatively rapid process, of about 1,000 or 2,000 years, as in the rest of the continent.
“We believe that modern man and his technology spread throughout the south of the Iberian Peninsula as in the Cantabrian area or the center of the peninsula, and at the same rate as in the rest of Europe,” the Institute researcher told Efe. Andalusian of Earth Sciences and co-author of the work (CSIC-UGR), Francisco Jiménez.
In fact, to determine if homo sapiens wiped out the Neanderthals or if, on the contrary, both human groups coexisted for millennia, new analyzes will be necessary to try to extract DNA samples that confirm the identity of each group.
The same study also separates the arrival of homo sapiens from the extreme cold weather phenomena called ‘Heinrich events’, which generated very important changes on the continent.
“During these events, large amounts of ice melted from northern Europe and dumped large amounts of fresh water into the Atlantic Ocean. In addition, these events produced very harsh conditions, extremely low temperatures and great climatic variability,” the researcher details.
However, the study dates confirm that this transition from Mousterian to Aurignacian in the Iberian lithic industry is not directly attributable to the climate, but was motivated by other causes that are yet to be determined.
The researchers also point out that finding such ancient Aurignacian technology in a cave as close to the sea as Bajondillo reinforces the idea that the Mediterranean coast was a route for modern humans who entered Europe, which reinforces the hypothesis that it does More than 40,000 years ago, modern man had already dispersed practically throughout Eurasia.