The first settlers from Africa loved a relatively mild climate and a varied vegetation environment, at least partially surrounding themselves with forest lands.
Understanding the conditions under which the first humans migrated from Africa to Europe during the early and middle Pleistocene is important for the study of human evolution. Scientists from the universities of Helsinki (Finland), Granada and Barcelona, Seville, Salamanca (Spain) decided to learn more about this issue. They published their findings in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews.
Researchers studied the distribution of dental ecometric characters in fossil communities of large herbivorous mammals, as well as their body sizes during the Pleistocene era in Spain. It is these parameters that are associated with various aspects of vegetation and climate.
The area around the Spanish city of Guadix - a place that scientists have been interested in - is of particular importance for understanding the human environment outside of Africa. It is there that one of the earliest sites of representatives of the genus Homo in Europe are located, dating from 1, 2-1, 4 million years.
It turned out that the climate in these parts at that time ranged from approximately the same to the current one to more humid. The vegetation in the territory of early human settlement was similar to a Mediterranean forest without significant grassy undergrowth, that is, it was different from the African savanna, where there was a lot of grass.
“Analysis of tooth wear shows that most of the large herbivorous mammals in the area did not consume significant amounts of grass. This is another indication of the lack of herbaceous vegetation. Our discovery is important because it suggests that already the earliest human habitats in Europe were often different from African grassy savannas,”said lead author of the study at the University of Helsinki, Juha Saarinen.
But the authors of the work did not limit themselves to data only from Spain. To understand what living conditions our ancestors had, they analyzed the distribution of functional characters of large herbivorous mammals throughout Europe at archaeological sites and in places where, on the contrary, they did not find traces of the presence of people.
It turned out that the first settlers from Africa lived in a wide variety of conditions, but preferred a relatively mild climate and a varied vegetation environment, which at least partially involves woodland.