Early man in Petralona cave
Discovered accidentally in northern Greece in May 1959, the Petralona cave added a significant link to the chain of human evolution. Dr. Aris Poulianos (Ph.D. University of Moscow and active member of the New York Academy of Science) found a complete skull and part of the skeleton of an erect hominid embedded in stalagmite.
This on-going excavation began in 1965. Twenty seven strata have been analysed, with evidence of fire dating back one million years. The type of bone and stone tools and the cranial size of this early man (1,230 cubic centimeters) all point to a very early form of "Homo sapiens"
The environment in which he lived was very different from today. The Lower Pleistocene (1,500,000 - 750,000 years ago) was marked by great climate changes, ice ages alternating with interglacial periods when ice sheets retreated and the climate warmed. Chisels, awls, hammers and other tools helped this early man survive in a harsh environment. Fire, his most important ally, provided warmth and kept carnivores away. The remains of mice, bears, hyenas and deer species were found in the excavated strata.
The discovery of so early a specimen in Europe challenges the prevailing theory that the earliest "Homo" species evolved in Africa.
By Katerina Constantopoulos
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