How rare was human presence in Europe during the Early Pleistocene?

Jesús Rodríguez from the Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH), has published in Quaternary International a paper which shows that, although during the Pleistocene humans were not among the most common species of mammals in Europe, can not be considered a rare species.

EBeneath the hot debate about the tempo and mode of the first human colonization of Europe is the perception that the record of human presence in the Early Pleistocene is sparse and fragmented. As a result, it is often implicitly assumed that hominins, if present, were scarce in the Early Pleistocene European ecosystems.

This study presents a quantitative assessment of the rarity and commonness of the European large mammal species during the 1.4–0.8 Ma period, including hominins. Considering the palaeontological record only, Homo was not one of the most common species in Europe, but it may not be considered a rare species.

In contrast, taking into consideration the archaeological record, hominins exhibit a wide geographical distribution and a high frequency of occurrence (occupancy) in comparison with other large mammals. It is speculated that hominins were frequent but not abundant in Europe during the late Early Pleistocene.