The last few years have seen major changes in European Palaeolithic and Quaternary research. Of particular significance to the earliest occupations have been changing, genetically-led, views regarding the identity of Early–Middle Pleistocene hominins in Europe, which have pushed back the likely age of the last common ancestor of Neanderthals and H. sapiens from c. 350kya to c. 700kya. This has important implications for understanding hominin settlement and dispersals, changing behavioural repertoires, and the archaeological record’s evolutionary context. At the same time, the increasingly fine-grained resolution of palaeoclimatic research is enabling exploration of the lived hominin experience at ecological scales. Central to this are new methodological approaches to the Pleistocene’s biological remains, encompassing hominin identities, palaeodiets of hominins and other animals, and palaeoclimatic conditions and palaeoecological plant and animal communities. This special issue builds on these developments and explores the distinct environmental challenges of mid-latitude Pleistocene Europe and how these were managed by the earliest, incoming, Europeans (c. +1mya–400kya). These challenges included greater seasonality, lower temperatures, changing types and distributions of floral and faunal resources, and distinctive latitudinal and longitudinal variations. This issue’s contributions emphasise both the micro-scale (hominin life as experienced on the ground) and macro-scale processes (e.g. hominin range expansion and environmental tolerances) from an integrated inter-disciplinary perspective – exploring palaeoenvironmental settings, palaeodiet, and material culture. Evaluating how the European challenges were met by the continent’s earliest hominins offers a valuable perspective on how the first major hominin dispersals out of Africa occurred, and how it led to subsequent key developments in hominin evolution, such as the emergence of the Neanderthals in Europe.
|Type||Special issue of Quaternary Science Reviews|
|Media of output||Journal|
|Publication status||Published - 2019|
|Name||Quaternary Science Reviews|