23 – Earliest hominin in Europe

1.2 Million Years Ago

Based on the fossil evidence from Orce and Atapuerca (Sima del Elephante) in Spain, members of the hominin species known as Homo antecessor, reached the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe ca. 1.2 million years ago, or probably as early as 1.4 million years ago. Some researchers have argued that hominins did not expand their range to northwestern Europe above the 45º N marker until after 500,000 years ago, hypothesized to have been mainly due to harsh climatic conditions above that marker. However, there is now evidence for their presence as far north as Britain and as early as 800,000 years ago-documented mostly through archaeological remains-challenging harsh climatic conditions as an explanation for their absence north of the Iberian Peninsula prior to 780,000 years ago. Unfortunately, the hominin fossil record in northwestern Europe before this time is extremely sparse. Their presence in northern Europe increased after the appearance of Homo heidelbergensis and may have been linked to better adaptation through behavioral plasticity.

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    Pleistocene2.58 million to 11,700 years ago

Environmental and Climate Changes

  • Intensification of cold glacial/warm interglacial cycles 1.2 Ma to 600,000 Ya
  • Earth’s climate remains relatively stable with alternating glacial and interglacial periods

Changing Species