Cro-Magnon skull

Cro-Magnon is the name of a place in France where several prehistoric skeletons were found in 1868. The Cro-Magnon type of prehistoric human appears to have been heavily built and fairly tall compared with the Neanderthals. The forehead was straight, with only slight ridges over the eyes, the skull long and narrow, the face short and wide and the brain large.

It appears that early Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals were closely related. Cro-Magnons seem to have evolved in Africa about 120 000 years ago and spread to western Asia by 90 000 – 100 000 years ago. These people lived at the same time as the Neanderthals. European Cro-Magnon people became widespread during the Upper Palaeolithic, about 30 000 – 35 000 years ago.

Cro-Magnons had a more advanced culture than the Neanderthals. They made different kinds of tools such as blade tools, scrapers (including some made for smoothing and scraping leather) and fine bone tools. They lived in caves and under rock overhangs, although they may have built stone huts. Cro-Magnon people buried their dead like the Neanderthals, and probably had a religion: their art may have had magical or religious meaning. Cro-Magnons were the first people to carve, and sculpted engravings and statuettes of humans and animals have been found. In France and Spain they painted different kinds of animals on the walls of their caves. They also decorated tools and weapons showing that they liked art for decoration as well as for religious reasons.

It is not known for certain when Cro-Magnons became extinct, but they probably were gradually absorbed into modern humans. Individuals with some Cro-Magnon characteristics have been found in the Mesolithic Period (8000 to 5000 BC) and the Neolithic Period (5000 to 2000 BC). When the Canary Islands were found by the Spaniards early in the 15th century, they found people who are thought to have been of Cro-Magnon origin. These peoples no longer exist, but they had brown complexions, blue or grey eyes, and blond hair. At the time of their discovery, these people belonged to a Neolithic culture, although they had pottery. Their clothing was either leather tunics or vests made of rushes.

100 000 years ago to now100 000 years ago to now

After the first modern humans (Cro-Magnons) emerged in Africa about 100 000 – 120 000 years ago, they migrated northward, spreading rapidly over Europe and Asia.

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