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Homo sapiens may have reached Europe 10,000 years earlier than previously thought

Stone Age Homo sapiens began migrating into Europe much longer ago than has typically been assumed.

Discoveries at a rock-shelter in southern France put H. sapiens in Europe as early as 56,800 years ago, a new study finds. That’s around 10,000 years earlier than previously thought (SN: 5/11/20).

The French site, called Grotte Mandrin, was alternately occupied by the H. sapiens newcomers and Neandertals native to Europe, replacing each other a couple of times before Neandertals died out roughly 40,000 years ago, researchers report February 9 in Science Advances.

The finds from the rock-shelter, situated 225 meters above the middle Rhône River Valley, challenge a popular view that Neandertals died out within a few thousand years of H. sapiens reaching Europe, say archaeologist Ludovic Slimak of the University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès in France and colleagues.

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