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Early Homo sapiens groups in Europe faced subarctic climates

New insights into the climatic backdrop for an early wave of dispersal of our species into Europe during the last glacial period

Using oxygen stable isotope analysis of tooth enamel from animals butchered by humans at the site of Bacho Kiro Cave, Bulgaria, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany, and the National Institute of Archaeology with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, Bulgaria, show that human groups belonging to an early wave of dispersal of our species into Europe were faced with very cold climatic conditions while they occupied the cave between about 46,000 and 43,000 years ago. Archaeological remains at Bacho Kiro Cave currently represent the oldest known remnants of Upper Palaeolithic Homo sapiens in Europe, and thus open a unique window into the time when our species started to move out of the Levant and establish itself across the mid latitudes of Eurasia as part of an archaeological phenomenon called the Initial Upper Palaeolithic.