Found the oldest Homo Sapiens in Europe. He is over 45 thousand years old!

Recently, new Homo Sapiens fossils have been reported in the Bacho Kiro cave in Bulgaria. These discoveries could tell when a reasonable person appeared in Europe, and how and when they began to interact with local Neanderthals. Previously, it was believed that this happened less than 40,000 years ago, it turned out that everything was completely wrong. This is stated by researchers Max Planck in the journal Nature.

This section of the Bacho Kiro cave provided evidence of the first spread of Homo Sapiens in the middle latitudes of Eurasia. They brought new to Europe and interacted with local Neanderthals. This early wave largely preceded what led to the final disappearance of Neanderthals in Western Europe 8,000 years later.

In general, only in 2015 did excavations in the Bacho Kiro cave resume. The most impressive finds were found in a rich dark layer at the base of the deposits. Here, the team discovered thousands of animal bones, stone and bone tools, beads, pendants, and the remains of five human fossils.

With the exception of one human tooth, human fossils were too fragmented to be recognizable by their appearance. Instead, they were identified by analysis of their protein sequences.

Most Pleistocene bones are so fragmented that it is impossible to determine by eye what species of animals they represent. However, proteins differ slightly in amino acid sequences from species to species. Thus, using protein mass spectrometry, we can quickly identify these bone samples, which are unrecognizable human bones.

Frido Velker, Researcher at the University of Copenhagen and Researcher at the Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology. Max Planck

To find out the age of these fossils and deposits in Bacho Kiro Cave, the team used an accelerator mass spectrometer to obtain ages with higher accuracy than usual and to directly determine the date of human bones.



Most animal bones that date from this characteristic dark layer showed signs of human exposure to the surface, such as traces of slaughter, which, along with the direct dates of human bones, give a really clear chronological picture of when Homo Sapiens first occupied this cave. This was between 45,820 and 43,650 years ago, or perhaps 46,940 years ago. The radiocarbon dates in the Bacho Kiro cave are not only the largest dataset of a single Paleolithic site ever made by the research team but also the most accurate in terms of error ranges.

Although some scholars have suggested that by this time, Homo Sapiens may have arrived in Europe from time to time, finds of this age are usually attributed to Neanderthals. To find out which group of people was present in Bacho Kiro’s cave, scientists sequenced DNA from fragmented fossil bones.

Given the exceptionally good conservation of DNA in the molar and the hominin fragments identified by protein mass spectrometry, scientists were able to reconstruct the complete mitochondrial genomes of six of the seven samples and attribute the restored mitochondrial DNA sequences from all seven samples to modern humans.

The results show that Homo Sapiens entered Europe and began to influence Neanderthals about 45,000 or 47,000 years ago. They brought to the cave of Bacho Kiro high-quality flint from sources at a distance of 180 km from it; these were pointed blades, possibly for hunting or cutting animals.

The remains of the Bacho Kiro cave document the period of time in Europe when the Middle Paleolithic Neanderthals were replaced by the Upper Paleolithic Homo Sapiens (the so-called transitional period).

The initial Upper Paleolithic in the Bacho Kiro Cave is the earliest known Upper Paleolithic in Europe. It represents a new way of making stone tools and new behaviors, including making personalized jewelry.

The original Upper Paleolithic probably originates in Southwest Asia, and soon it could be found in the Bacho Kiro cave in Bulgaria, where they came from Mongolia, and then Homo Sapiens quickly dispersed throughout Eurasia and collided, influenced and eventually replaced the archaic populations of Neanderthals and Denisovans.

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