Pollen Analysis May Explain When and How the Flow of Homo Sapiens Into Eurasia Happened

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Improvement of climate, abrupt recovery of vegetation and dispersal of Homo Sapiens in Baikal Siberia

Published: 2023/09/23
Author: University of Kansas – Contact: ku.edu
Peer Reviewed: Yeah – Post type: Anthropology News
Magazine reference: DOI link to study document
Related Posts: Latest articles – Full list

In this page: SummaryDefinition of the PleistoceneMain articleAbout the Author

Synopsis: A new study compares Pleistocene vegetation communities around Lake Baikal in Siberia, Russia, with the oldest archaeological remains of Homo sapiens in the region. This research addresses long-standing debates about the environmental conditions that early Homo sapiens faced during their migration to Europe and Asia between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago. What we have presented is a solid chronology of environmental changes in Lake Baikal during this period, complemented by a well-dated archaeological record of the presence of Homo sapiens in the region.

Definition

Pleistocene

The Pleistocene, often colloquially called the Ice Age, is the geological epoch that lasted from c. Between 2.58 million and 11,700 years ago, covering the most recent period of repeated ice ages on Earth. In glacial periods, sea level would fall as much as 120 m (390 ft) lower than today during peak glaciation, exposing large areas of the present continental shelf as dry land. The end of the Pleistocene corresponds to the end of the last glacial period and also to the end of the Paleolithic used in archaeology.

Main summary

“Improvement of climate, abrupt recovery of vegetation and dispersal of Homo Sapiens in Baikal Siberia” – Scientific advances.

It’s an Ice Age mystery that has been debated for decades among anthropologists: exactly when and how did the flow of Homo sapiens into Eurasia occur? Was it a cold snap or a period of warming that drove the first human movements from Africa to Europe and Asia?

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A new study appearing in Scientific advances compares Pleistocene vegetation communities around Lake Baikal in Siberia, Russia, with the oldest archaeological remains of Homo sapiens in the region. Researchers use the “remarkable evidence” to tell a compelling story from 45,000 to 50,000 years ago with new details: how early humans migrated through Europe and Asia.

The new pollen data suggests that rising temperatures supported forests expanding into Siberia and facilitated early human migration there, around the same time as more western areas of Eurasia.

“This research addresses long-standing debates about the environmental conditions that early Homo sapiens faced during their migration to Europe and Asia around 40,000 to 50,000 years ago,” said co-author Ted Goebel, a professor of anthropology at the University of Kansas. “It provides critical information about environmental conditions in Lake Baikal, using pollen records to reveal surprising warmth during this period.”

In fact, pollen data suggest that people’s dispersal occurred during some of the warmer temperatures of the late Pleistocene, which would also have led to higher humidity. The ancient pollen record shows coniferous forests and grasslands that characterized the region, capable of supporting human foraging and hunting. Goebel said the environmental data, combined with archaeological evidence, tells a new story.

“This contradicts some recent archaeological perspectives in Europe,” said the KU researcher. “The key factor here is accurate dating, not only of the human fossils and animal bones associated with the archeology of these people, but also of the environmental records, including pollen. What we have presented is a solid chronology of the changes in Lake Baikal during this time period, complemented by a well-dated archaeological record of the presence of Homo sapiens in the region.”

Goebel’s collaborators were lead author Koji Shichi of the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute in Kochi, Japan; Masami Izuho of Tokyo Metropolitan University, Hachioji, Japan; and Kenji Kashiwaya of Kanazawa University, Kanazawa, Japan.

Article continues below image.

Map showing the theorized migration routes of early Homo sapiens from Africa through Eurasia. Image credit: Ted Goebel.

Continued…

Although the pollen analysis was carried out in Japan, Goebel and Izuho linked the pollen data to important evidence in the archaeological record of early human migration. Goebel said that the appearance of a complete Homo sapiens in the archaeological record corresponds to changes in culture and behavior. Early modern humans of this period made stone tools with long, thin blades, worked bone, antler, and ivory to make tools, including some of the first bone needles with carved eyelets for sewing and the first bone and antler spearheads. .

“Some of us argued that as anatomical changes occurred, as evidenced by the fossil record, there was a simultaneous change in behavior and cognition,” Goebel said. “These early humans were becoming more creative, innovative and adaptable. That’s when we began to see significant changes in the archaeological record, such as cave paintings. We also found mobile art, such as the first carvings known as Venus figures. In Central Europe “There is even an ivory sculpture dating from this early period, depicting a man with a lion’s head. It’s not just about replicating nature; “It’s about creative expression, inventing new things, exploring new places.”

According to the KU researcher, at least one human bone dating from that time has been found in the region.

“There is a human fossil from Siberia, although not from Lake Baikal but further west, in a place called Ust’-Ishim,” Goebel said. “Morphologically, it is human, but more importantly it is exceptionally well preserved. It has been directly radiocarbon dated and has yielded ancient DNA, confirming it as a representative of modern Homo sapiens, distinct from Neanderthals or Denisovans, or others.” pre-humans. modern archaic humans.”

Goebel said the early human inhabitants of the area would probably have lived in extended nuclear families or in small groups, as they appear to have done in other areas of Eurasia. But because there is so much degraded archaeological evidence, it’s hard to know for sure.

“At Ust’-Ishim, in Siberia, we have evidence of a fully modern human coexisting with the sites we have been discussing,” he said. “However, Ust’-Ishim was an isolated discovery, found by geologists eroding a river bank. We lack information about its archaeological context, whether it was part of a settlement or simply a solitary bone washed downstream. Consequently, link to that single individual with “Archaeological sites in the Baikal region are unclear: do they represent the same population? “We think so, but we definitely need more evidence.”

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This peer-reviewed anthropology news article related to our Anthropology and Disability section was selected for publication by Disabled World editors because of its likely interest to our readers in the disability community. Although content may have been edited for style, clarity, or length, the article “Pollen analysis can explain when and how the flow of Homo Sapiens towards Eurasia occurred” was originally written by the University of Kansas and published by Disabled-World.com on 09/23/2023. If you require further information or clarification, you may contact the University of Kansas at ku.edu. Disabled World makes no warranties or representations in connection therewith.

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