Extreme weather wiped out Europe’s first inhabitants, according to new research involving Spanish scientists. It happened 1.12 million years ago, according to this work published this Thursday in the journal Science that challenges the idea of an early and permanent human occupation of Europe.
The oldest known hominin remains in Europe come from the Iberian Peninsula and suggest that the first archaic humans arrived from southwest Asia 1.4 million years ago.
The climate at this time of the Early Pleistocene was characterized by warm and humid interglacial periods and mild glacial periodsso it has long been assumed that, once the first humans arrived, they were able to survive in southern Europe through multiple climate cycles and adapt to the increasingly cold conditions of the last 900,000 years.
However, now an international team led by researchers from University College London (UCL), the Institute for Environmental Diagnosis and Water Studies (IDAEA-CSIC) and the IBS Center for Climate Physics in South Korea, has discovered evidence of the appearance of hitherto unknown extreme glacial conditions around 1.12 million years ago.
“To our surprise, we discovered that the cooling was comparable to the most extreme events of the recent ice ages,” said Professor Joan Grimalt, a CSIC researcher at IDAEA, in a press release.