Homo Sapiens originated around 300,000 years back. Since then, it has evolved and now, modern humans have spread to every nook and corner of the globe banking on the ability to adapt to any surroundings. Homo Sapiens can withstand a range of climates. They have been enduring extreme changes in climate over the years.
The Ice Age started around 115,000 years ago. During that period, humans have gone through wild weather swings and have survived. The first question that comes to mind is how did they do it? Neither the archaeologists nor the anthropologists have been able to give an elaborate or direct answer to this question.
As per the potential explanations that scientists could come up with, humans have always had that remarkable social ability and an inclination toward changing their surroundings to their advantage.
If you want to get to the depth of how humans survived the Ice Age, you first need to appreciate what they were going through and how they were dealing with all the hurdles. In the ice age, the temperatures throughout the atmosphere of the earth got cold enough to cover large areas of the planet with glaciers and continental ice. Though it is commonly perceived that the temperatures during this period were constantly freezing, there used to be frequent fluctuations in the weather. The temperatures ranged from cold to colder. The instability in the climate was the main hurdle during the Ice Age.
If you notice the temperatures over the last 100,000 years, the higher latitudes have witnessed both warmer and colder climates, whereas the temperatures in the lower latitudes have been either wet or dry. The earth’s dynamism has always posed a stiff challenge for all the organisms on the planet and a fundamental question that arises is how they survived or still survive the drastic changes in the climate. Many plant and animal species have had a tough time adapting to the abrupt changes in their surroundings.
What about the Other Hominins?
When the Ice Age was about to start, Homo sapiens were not the only hominins who were present on this planet. Both the Homo erectus and Homo Floresiensis inhabited the Indonesian islands. Asia was inhabited by the Denisovans, while the Neanderthals had to withstand the harsh climatic conditions of Europe. As per one theory that has been persistent over the years, the hominin species vanished from the planet when the Homo sapiens, considered to be smarter Hominins, emerged in the territories inhabited by them and defeated them either through violence or taking food under their control.
The sudden wiping away of these different species is bound to raise eyebrows. Suspicions are bound to amplify when you think about the violence and the constant infighting in that period. Therefore, it’s normal to suspect that one species wiped away the others by killing them. In today’s times, the sudden climate changes led to the disappearance of the entire population. For example, recent research suggests that the Neanderthals vanished owing to a bout of cold and dry stretches 44,000 to 40,000 years back.
Nearly all hominins vanished during the Ice Age. It was only the Homo sapiens that survived. The latter appeared many millennia around 200,000 years before the Ice Age arrived on the African continent. Experts say that there was tremendous glacial activity in that terrain.
In the middle of the terrain, 70,000 to 60,000 years ago, the Homo sapiens started traveling across the planet for several reasons. They either chose the deserts or the flourishing forests. Since they didn’t have a map, they just made their way to the next valley or to the next hillside to explore the new places.
The humans were signaling and transmitting information to each other. According to specialists, humans are the only ones capable of communicating with each other. However, the hominins also could communicate with each other. Some specialists are also of the opinion that the Homo erectus had protolinguistic abilities. According to studies, the Neanderthals had auditory as well as speech abilities that could be compared to humans.
One important skill that helped humans survive the Ice Age might be their ability to conceive and create sophisticated stone tools. They also made modifications to shield their shelters from adverse weather. Fascinating, isn’t it?