London: Rising temperatures about 1.4 million years ago may have enabled the earliest humans to migrate to Europe, says a new study.
The researchers from the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA) said the spread of hominins, who were our distant human ancestors, had been halted by colder temperatures. But a warming climate 1.4 million years ago enabled them to move from Africa to Spain, and eventually across Europe, Mail Online reported on Tuesday.
It is based on the analysis of the Barranco León site in the Guadix-Baza Basin in southeast Spain, where stone tools were linked to the earliest known hominins.
The researchers said the early Pleistocene era (the era lasted from 2.59 million to 11,700 years ago) was characterised by colder and drier weather. "This possibly impeded the settlement of this region by the early hominin population from the southern Caucasus," the study said.
But shortly afterwards, "when the climatic conditions were again favourable, a hominin presence is suddenly evidenced".
The warming climate referred to in the study was on a vastly longer time scale than modern climate change.
The study was led by Jordi Agusti from ICREA and its findings were published in the Journal of Human Evolution.