Thursday, October 1, 2020

Arrival Of Modern Humans In Western Europe Pushed Back 5000 Years

A new paper suggests that modern humans reached Western Europe about five thousand years earlier than previous evidence had shown. This is not shocking, but it is a notable, incremental development, that extends the time frame in which Neanderthals and modern humans may have co-existed in each other's proximity in Europe.
Modern humans arrived in the westernmost part of Europe 41,000 -- 38,000 years ago, about 5,000 years earlier than previously known, according to Jonathan Haws, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Louisville, and an international team of researchers. The team has revealed the discovery of stone tools used by modern humans dated to the earlier time period in a report published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The tools, discovered in a cave named Lapa do Picareiro, located near the Atlantic coast of central Portugal, link the site with similar finds from across Eurasia to the Russian plain. The discovery supports a rapid westward dispersal of modern humans across Eurasia within a few thousand years of their first appearance in southeastern Europe. The tools document the presence of modern humans in westernmost Europe at a time when Neanderthals previously were thought to be present in the region. The finding has important ramifications for understanding the possible interaction between the two human groups and the ultimate disappearance of the Neanderthals.
From here.

The abstract and article are as follows:
We report the remarkable discovery of an early Aurignacian occupation, ∼5,000 years older than any Upper Paleolithic site in westernmost Eurasia. The archaeological and radiocarbon data provide definitive evidence that modern humans were in western Iberia at a time when, if present at all, Neanderthal populations would have been extremely sparse. This discovery has important ramifications for our understanding of the process of modern human dispersal and replacement of Neanderthal populations. The results support a very rapid, unimpeded dispersal of modern humans across western Eurasia and support the notion that climate and environmental change played a significant role in this process.
Jonathan A. Haws, Michael M. Benedetti, Sahra Talamo, Nuno Bicho, João Cascalheira, M. Grace Ellis, Milena M. Carvalho, Lukas Friedl, Telmo Pereira, Brandon K. Zinsious. "The early Aurignacian dispersal of modern humans into westernmost Eurasia." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2020) 202016062 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2016062117


neo said...

The tools, discovered in a cave named Lapa do Picareiro, located near the Atlantic coast of central Portugal, link the site with similar finds from across Eurasia to the Russian plain. --- tools, perhaps made by Neanderthal populations copying ?

Alkibiades said...

I remember reading, long ago, that the admixture with Neanderthals present in modern Eurasians is usually speculated to have occurred in Southwest Asia. I also recall reading on GNXP that the early colonists of the European peninsula were replaced several times over; surviving in isolated glacial refugia made for dangerous levels of inbreeding, small population sizes, and poor survival rates in the face of invading peoples from the Southwest. Is it possible that there were other admixture events, and that the descendants of those hybrids died out during the LGM?

andrew said...

"Is it possible that there were other admixture events, and that the descendants of those hybrids died out during the LGM?"

Yes. And everything else that you've heard seems correct to me as well.

Jaap said...

Forgive me if I am wrong, but I remember reading about a find on the eastern coast of Iberia not too far north of Gibraltar dated to 44 kya. Or thereabouts. Did not take notes, so no details. AMH, but just tools ... 200 miles south of there a neanderthal left a footprint when chamois hunting 28 kya. Or thereabouts ... Now look at this window!
And no local genetic results until the Magdalenian, which takes us past the LGM, when the world was in upheaval, and replacements were the norm, not the exception. What came afterwards has a connection to Turkey and Greece. But there is absolutely nothing that harks back to Cro Magnon, Neanderthal or Solutrean.
Such a big black hole! There may have been contact between Europe and America at this time, but as yet there is no way to check. Both Solutrean and Clovis were expensive signalling, but establishing a link between them we must enter a territory boobytrapped by conmen and racists. Not respectable science! What a pity!
The Americans have seeked to solve this by giving us the genetic signature of the Montana boy. Which does not even begin to answer any real honest questions. It seems to keep them happy though.

andrew said...

The Solutrean hypothesis has been pretty much completely and definitively disproven. There is no link between the Solutrean culture, 21,000 to 17,000 years ago and the Clovis culture which emerged from Northern Native Americans after the Founding of the Americas a few thousand years or so earlier.

Jaap said...

What you are saying is it has been rejected. Pretty much, as you say ... And I am not suggesting that there is much likelyhood of a Solutrean settlement in the Americas during the GM. But there is no way to rule out contact. Or prove it. So the question comes down to how helpful the idea potentially is. The idea that both the Solutrean and Clovis are costly signalling is an important reset button. Cf Andy White, 2014. It seems to have been a social and spiritual thing that in the Americas travelled from east to west. And was wiped out with the YD event, which did not kill the people, but the practice. What exactly happened to the Solutrean after they were replaced in France by the Badegoullian we have no idea, as much of the evidence is submerged. That said we have no information if there is any important archeology on the sea floor at all. Bisquay is not like Doggerland, which keeps on giving. It is deep and turbulent and what there once may have been has been scattered. But the Spanish caves probably give us only a tiny bit of the Solutrean ...
There may be an interesting archive on the submerged American east coast!

Jaap said...

Oh, sorry! Of course White does not mention the Solutrean at all! My bad.