First 'modern' humans may have appeared in Iberian Peninsula about 33,000 yrs ago

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Washington, March 16 (ANI): A new research has suggested that the first 'modern' human beings may have appeared in the Iberian Peninsula about 33,000 years ago.

The research was carried out by a group of archaeologists from the Centre for Prehistoric Archaeological Heritage Studies of the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB) at the Cova Gran site in Spain.

The research contributes to stirring up scientific debate about the appearance of the first "modern" human beings on the Iberian Peninsula and their possible bearing on the extinction of the Neanderthals.

The samples obtained at Cova Gran using Carbon 14 dating refer to a period of between 34,000 and 32,000 years in which this biological replacement in the Western Mediterranean can be located in time.

Cova Gran is a large shelter discovered in 2002, located in the area of Les Avellanes-Santa Linya -La Noguera- and is one of the rare European archaeological sites to enable the study of what is known in Paleoanthropology as "transitions" or critical phases in which transformations and remodelling that are essential for reconstructing the history of our species can be detected.

The investigators from the UAB have worked on an area of 60 metres squared, excavating a large area which has enabled them to reconstruct the way in which the people who inhabited the shelter lived.

Cova Gran was occupied successively by Neanderthals and "modern" humans in small groups of 15 to 20 people with a similar lifestyle: hunting, gathering, making tools for their daily activities and obtaining and processing food for which the use of fire was essential.

In spite of this, each species used very different techniques and primary materials.

Among the remains found that are attributable to Homo sapiens are several perforated sea snail shells, generally considered to be an indicator of the distribution of the species throughout Africa, the Middle East and Western Europe.

They also denote the existence of a symbolic language and cognitive capacities for which there is no evidence during the Middle Palaeolithic.

These objects indicate that Homo sapiens travelled widely across lands from the Mediterranean coast to the Pyrenean foothills, a distance of over 150 kilometres, although the researchers do not rule out the existence of social networks which would connect groups separated by large distances and through which these objects would circulate. (ANI)

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