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Archaeologists recently discovered the oldest evidence of human ancestors in Europe at a site in western Ukraine dating back 1.4 million years, Cosmos Magazine reported.

Hominins – a group that includes humans and their extinct relatives – are believed to have first arrived in Eurasia from Africa one or two million years ago. However, their exact route and point of arrival remain unknown.

Now, a new study on the Korolevo archaeological site provided some invaluable insights into the early migrations of hominins into Eurasia, challenging preconceived notions and rewriting the narrative of human evolution.

Korolevo has long been recognized for its Palaeolithic stone tools, yet the precise age of these artifacts remained elusive until now.

Researchers conducted a cosmogenic nuclide analysis of sediment surrounding the tools. This technique allowed them to examine the rare forms of atomic nuclei that formed because of bombardment by high-energy rays from space.

Their findings showed that the Korolevo tools were buried about 1.42 million years ago, with the team theorizing that they were used by the extinct Homo erectus.

But the study also unveiled links connecting disparate regions and time periods, bridging the gap between ancient human finds in the Caucasus and southwestern Europe.

The authors explained that this newfound understanding of migratory routes challenges previous hypotheses, suggesting an eastern entry point into the continent, instead of a land bridge to what is today the Iberian Peninsula or across the sea to southern Europe.

The findings also hint at the dynamic interplay between early humans and their environment over millennia: It shows how these resourceful hominins capitalized on warm interglacial periods to venture into higher latitudes, exploiting opportunities presented by shifting climates to expand their reach.

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