The new first Europeans

(Benazzi 2015 fig S1QuicBenazzi 2015 fig 1Benazzi 2015 fig 2k notes on “The makers of the Protoaurignacian and implications for Neandertal extinction” (Benazzi & al., 2015))

Between 45 – 35 ka, Neandertals were replaced by anatomically modern humans (AMHs) in Europe, and several “transitional” and early Upper Palaeolithic cultures emerged {Benazzi, 2015 #74}.

  • One of this cultures is proto-Aurignacian, which appeared in SW and south-central Europe in 42 ka. It is characterized by the presence of personal ornaments, the dominance of bladelets with typical retouched standardized implements, and Dufour bladelets produced from unipolar cores.
    • This culture has been tentatively linked with the Ahmarian culture of the Levant, attributed to modern humans, but only three nondiagnostic human remains are associated with proto-Aurignacian (a foetus from Le Piage rock shelter (FRA) whose stratigraphic integrity has been questioned, and two deciduous incisors from two Northern Italian sites, Riparo Bombrini and Grotta di Fumane).
    • The relative enamel thickness of Bombrini specimen, as well as the DNA of the Fumane specimen, can be taxonomically assigned to AMHs.
    • This shows that AMHs with a proto-Aurignacian culture had already spread into Europe, [possibly] along the Mediterranean coast, by 41 ka (68.2 % probability).
      • This time is contemporary to that of the last Neandertal cultures: 41 030 – 39 260 a for Musterian and ~45 – 40 ka for Chatelperronian.
    • In consequence, proto-Aurignacian AMHs may have been a (direct or indirect) cause of Neandertal extinction, at least in northern Italy.

Figures (from the article):

  1. Extent of the proto-Aurignacian culture.
  2. Views of the studied teeth.
  3. Phylogenetic position of the Fumane specimen.




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