Scientists are making use of pollen data to shed light on the ancient human migration from Africa to Europe and Asia during the Ice Age. Led by Koji Shichi from Japan’s Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, in collaboration with experts including Ted Goebel from the University of Kansas, the research has come up with some fresh insights into the environmental challenges that the early Homo sapiens faced during their migration some 40,000 to 50,000 years ago. This unconventional approach challenges existing theories about the journey of our ancestors.
New pollen data challenges earlier theories. It highlights that warming temperatures were instrumental in facilitating early human migration into Siberia and Eurasia. During this period, higher temperatures and humidity led to the expansion of forests and grasslands, providing resources for early humans. Precise dating, not just of human artifacts but also environmental records like pollen, was crucial in forming a reliable chronology of changes in the Lake Baikal region during this time.
The emergence of fully developed Homo sapiens in the archaeological record coincided with a shift in behavior marked by advanced skills like crafting stone tools, bone needles with carved eyelets for sewing and art forms such as cave paintings and Venus figurines. This period signaled increased creativity, innovation and adaptability among early humans.
Though archaeological evidence in Lake Baikal is limited, a well-preserved human bone found in Siberia at Ust’-Ishim has been radiocarbon-dated, confirming it as a modern Homo sapiens specimen. Yet, uncertainties about their lifestyle and social structure remain with researchers suggesting they likely lived in extended nuclear families or small groups similar to other Eurasian regions. Further research is needed to establish a stronger link between the Ust’-Ishim individual and Lake Baikal’s archaeological sites.