The Most Ancient Traces Of Homo Sapiens In Europe

By Letizia L

The appearance of homo sapiens in Europe seems to have occurred 210,000 years ago, which is more or less 160,000 years earlier than previously thought. This significant difference came up with the results of the study carried out on parts of two skulls discovered forty years ago in the Mani peninsula, Greece. These were until then believed to be Neanderthal – while new analyzes suggest that one of the two is of a sapiens.

Katerina Harvati (University of Tübingen, Germany), the coordinator of the study, underlines that the results come from an analysis technique that was not available at the time of the discovery. It is quite interesting that sapiens has both ancient and modern characteristics, and this could mean that one of the modern migrations of Homo Sapiens from Africa to the Middle East took place in an era of the Middle Pleistocene, i.e. between 800,000 and 130,000 years ago.

The study questions the widespread belief that sapiens arrived in Eurasia some 50,000 years ago, and the fact that the Neanderthal skull is younger could indicate that they managed to drive sapiens out of that territory. “It is possible,” says Eric Delson (NYU) in a comment on the work of Harvati and colleagues, “that at that time the neanderthals managed to survive better than the sapiens in an environment with very adverse conditions. ”

The picture that emerges from these studies is remarkably complex: between 250,000 and 40,000 years ago the populations of H. Sapiens and H. Neanderthals could have “replaced” each other several times until, in the end, the former had the upper hand, between 45,000 and 35,000 years ago, and the Neanderthals went extinct.