The first ‘modern’ Palaeolithic peoples were the Neanderthals, a subspecies of archaic humans, who lived in northern Africa, Malta and Europe (c. 200,000 BP). Evidence suggests they became extinct between 40,000 BP and 30,000 BP when modern humans were emerging. According to the dominant hypothesis early modern humans (Cro-Magnon) migrated from Africa in several phases, and are genetically intertwined with local Homo erectus populations in southern and eastern Africa. During the upper Palaeolithic period (c. 40,000 BP) modern humans had replaced other ‘archaic’ hominids and were beginning to create stone figurines, as well as showing an interest in art, burying their dead and practising simple spiritual beliefs. By 8,000 BCE (the Neolithic Age) Africans had separated into four distinct racial groups, the west African Negroes, the dominant physical type; the San people (ancestors of the modern bushmen in the east and south); the Pygmies in central Africa and Arabs/Arab-Negroid in northeastern Africa.
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