Some 20,000 years ago, while the entire world was shivering under the effects of a great global ice age, the Iberian Peninsula became the refuge of the last survivors of the Ice Age. He larger genetic analysis to date of people who lived before and after this moment reveals how the European hunter-gatherer populations They migrated during the Neolithic and Paleolithic periods to escape the extreme cold. His study, published this Wednesday in two journals of the ‘Nature’ family, is one of the most complete rebuilds ever made about the ancient inhabitants of Europe.

The investigation begins with the story of an individual who suffered 23,000 years in the area that we now know as grenada bad lunch cave. The genomic analysis of this specimen reveals, for example, that this ancient inhabitant of southern Spain carried the genetic legacy of other European cultures. According to the scientists who have led this analysis, this points to a certain connection between different populations who inhabited the European continent during that period. It also suggests that the Iberian Peninsula was a key point in migratory movements, as well as in the contractions and expansions that occur before and after the last Ice Age.

A parallel study, also published this Wednesday, reconstructs the story of a hundred years of individuals who lived in different parts of Europe during this period in which much of the land was covered with ice. These also include the ancient inhabitants of the Catalan deposits of Mollet and Reclau Viver (Gerona). The analyzes suggest some genetic connection between, for example, a individual who lived in Belgium 35,000 years ago years and others who lived in the Iberian Peninsula and France. This evidences, on the one hand, the migration dynamics in that period and, on the other hand, the genetic continuity among the different European populations of the time.

The Diaspora of Early Modern Humans

to understand a little more the importance of these determinationsLet’s take a step back and go to the beginning of this story. About 100,000 years ago, the European was immersed in a great ice age. Just during this period, the first anatomically modern humans They came through these parts. These were groups of hunter-gatherers who, while roaming the territory, developed their own cultural and artistic practices. These populations were migrating for thousands of years until the ice age turned the continent into a habitable zone. When the climate warmed, around 9,000 years ago, the first cultures that depended on agriculture arose.

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The studies presented reconstruct the history of the last survivors of the ice age. «The coldest period of the Ice Age correlates with large displacements and population replacements in central europe«, highlights Vanessa Villalba-Mouco, author of these articles and researcher at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (CSIC-UPF) and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. As the researcher explains, the Iberian Peninsula was not only the refuge in which the last survivors of the Ice Age sought refuge, but also the epicenter from which later it spread to Europe again.

United Nations curious detail of this entire migration process, also revealed now, has to do with the lack of genetic connection between europe and north africa during this time. Genetic analyzes suggest that hunter-gatherer populations did not cross the Strait of Gibraltar. Not even during the great ice age there was a drop in the sea of ​​150 meters and, at least theoretically, crossing the pond should be much easier. «This shows that the Strait of Gibraltar remained a formidable geographical barrier for the movements of human populations,» explains carles lalueza foxresearcher at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology and current director of the Museum of Natural Sciences of Barcelona (MCNB).