M. LouisLartet in 1868 discovered fine skeletons from a cave Cro-Magnon in Les Eyzies, France belonging to two adult men, one woman, an infant and an old man. Its age has been estimated to be 30-40 thousand years (late Pleistocene). Associated finds belong to an Aurignacian culture of upper palaeolithic consisting of bone and stone tools, cane-paintings, sculptures, stone statues of female figures etc. The animal bones belong to mammoths, cave bear, woolly rhinoceros etc.
Characteristics of Cro-Magnon Man:
The skull is very large and massive.
Skull is very long (20.3 Cm) in relation to its breadth (15.0 Cm) and thus the skull is dolichocephalic.
The vault is high.
The Cranial Capacity is estimated at 1660 c.c. by Keith and 1590 c.c. by Boule.
The forehead is broad and moderately high.
Supraorbital ridges are low and wide.
The occiput is projecting notably and it is flattened at the parietal occipital region.
The face is very broad, short and flat.
The orbits are rectangular in form.
The zygomatic region is strong, large and prominent.
The nose is long and narrow-leptorrhine.
The nasal bones are high.
The maxillary regions show marked prognathism.
The palate is shallow and narrow.
The lower jaw is strong and not very massive.
The ascending ramii are not very wide.
The sigmoid notch is fairly deep.
A well-marked chin is present.
The femur, which is platymeric is strongly bowed out and it possesses a well-developed linea aspera.
The tibia is platynemic, that is, flat from side to side.
The long bones suggest an athletic physique with strong muscles and tall stature.
Height is estimated at 168.4 Cm.
The leg is long compared to the thigh and the forearm is long compared to the arm.
The pelvis of females indicated the birth of less mature babies and thus longer socialization.
Culturally, these people were much advanced than the earlier forms. Their tool kit included more new devices- the bow and arrow, complex bone-tools, methods of food storage, improved hearths, clothing, larger dwelling. Faunal remains indicate planned hunting.
Burial was much elaborate with Cro-Magnon people. Graves are often associated with goods that indicate changes in the belief system and the existence of social class.
Cane-paintings are elaborate and they encode information about hunting, critical life transition such as puberty and other belief systems.
Evolutionary possibilities of Cro-Magnon is unclear. Fossils similar to it have been discovered from Border Cave, River Klasies from Africa and Qafzeh and Skhul from South-West Asia dating 0.1 million years ago.
Cro-Magnon may have had some inter-relationship with these African ancestors with which it shared genes in the formation of modern humans.