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Cro-Magnon man

Cro-Magnon man (krō-măgˈnən, –mănˈyən) [key], an early Homo sapiens (the species to which modern humans belong) that lived about 40,000 years ago. Skeletal remains and associated artifacts of the of the Aurignacian culture were first found in 1868 in Les Eyzies, Dordogne, France. Later discoveries were made in a number of caverns in the Dordogne valley, Solutré, and in Spain, Germany, and central Europe. Cro-Magnon man was anatomically identical to modern humans, but differed significantly from Neanderthals (see Neanderthal man), who disappear in the fossil about 10,000 years after the appearance of Aurignacian and other upper Paleolithic populations (e.g. the Perigordian culture). The abrupt disappearance of Neanderthal populations and the associated Mousterian technologies, the sudden appearance of modern Homo sapiens (who had arisen earlier in Africa and migrated to Europe) and the associated upper Paleolithic technologies, and the absence of transitional anatomical or technological forms have led most researchers to conclude that Neanderthals were driven to extinction through competition with Cro-Magnon or related populations. Greater linguistic competence and cultural sophistication are often suggested as characteristics tilting the competitive balance in favor of upper Paleolithic groups. Finely crafted stone and bone tools, shell and ivory jewelry, and polychrome paintings found on cave walls all testify to the cultural advancement of Cro-Magnon man. See human evolution.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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