, which means “
Old Stone Age
,” has been considered to extend from 750,000
to 15,000 years ago.
Paleolithic humans were hunters and gatherers. Their culture survives chiefl
the remains of stone tools, which along with carbon dating can be used to determine chronology.
dence is accumulating that there were waves of migrations. About 500,000 years ago, a surge of hominid
expansion occurred from populations that had a brain capacity of 1100-1300 cc, a species now known as
, after its discovery in Germany (Fig. 2-3). This
new immigrant population fi
rmly established itself in Europe with superb hunting skills as evidenced by
weapons such as spears. This group gave rise to
brawny and large-brained humans with short
arms and a broad trunk, who appeared in Europe about 250,000 years ago. However, about this time a new
, spread to Asia and eventually reached Europe (Fig 2-4).
Cro-Magnon man, up to six feet in height, with a cranial capacity greater (by 200 cc) than modern humans
(1500-1700 cc) had a huge frontal lobe that some have suggested was “wired” for cognative thinking. By
200,000 years ago, Neandertals and Cro-Magnons came in contact and co-existed for several thousands
of years. This encounter had a pivotal role in human evolution. The
group, our direct ancestors
overwhelmed the Neandertals who essentially disappeared about 25,000 – 30,000 years ago, although there
is a possibility of some interbreeding. The evidence suggests that the Neandertals could not compete with
Cro-Magnons, especially as the climate changed in the Ice Age. Note that the Ice Age came to an end about
15,000 years ago.