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Homo Sapiens – Cro-Magnon

In this article, we will learn about the Homo sapiens - Cro-Magnon. We will also learn about their characteristics, lifestyle, and culture.


“Cro-Magnon” is a word that has been derived from the five skeletons that French palaeontologist, Louis Lartet discovered in 1868. He made this discovery at the Cro-Magnon rock shelter in Les Eyzies, Dordogne, France. Human bones dating from 10,000 to 35,000 years old were discovered in the topmost layer.

Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals (H. Neanderthalensis) were the prehistoric humans discovered by scientists, and they have since been considered representative of prehistoric humans alongside Neanderthals (H. Neanderthalensis). According to modern studies, Cro-Magnons could have appeared as early as 45,000 years ago.


They appear to be from the late Pleistocene period, which is later than the Grimaldi homo sapiens.


The associated implements indicate that they flourished during the Upper Paleolithic period’s Aurignacian period. They created Aurignacian-era bone and stone tools that were expertly crafted. They were also responsible for the beautiful cave paintings, sculptures, ivory and stone statuettes of female figures, and other similar artistic objects that can be found in various parts of Europe.

Housing and Occupation

Hearths, kitchens, butchering grounds, sleeping grounds, and trash heaps are all common features of Cro-Magnon cave sites, with specific areas designated for specific activities such as hearths, kitchens, butchering grounds, sleeping grounds, and trash piles. It’s difficult to tell whether all of the material from a site was deposited at the same time or if it was reused.

The Cro-Magnons’ mobile lifestyle was likely supported by the construction of temporary shelters in open environments, such as huts, as evidenced by the lengths of trade routes. The presence of huts is usually accompanied by the discovery of a hearth.

Cro-Magnons developed coordinated group hunting techniques. This enabled them to slaughter large herd animals and increased their food supply. Their hunting activities were mainly concentrated in the river valleys of Western Europe and the plains of Central and Eastern Europe. They also developed new, more specialised hunting weapons.

The spear-thrower (or atlatl, click this icon to hear the preceding term pronounced) was invented around 17,000-15,000 years ago, and it revolutionised spear hunting. This was a wooden or bone rod with a hook on one end that fits into the base socket of the spear.

The purpose of this device was to aid spear throwing. It increased the range and force of impact of projectiles by essentially lengthening the spear thrower’s arm.

Characteristics of Cro-Magnon Man

  • The skull was massive and large. It was found to be dolichocephalic because it was very long (20.3 cm) in comparison to its width (15.0 cm).
  • The vault was extremely high (hypocephalic).
  • Keith calculates a cranial capacity of 1660 cubic centimetres, and Boule calculates a capacity of 1590 cubic centimetres.
  • The parietal tuberosities were positioned laterally and projected significantly, giving the cranium a pentagonal shape.
  • The brow was broad and slightly elevated.
  • Low and wide supraorbital ridges.
  • The occiput was prominently projecting and flattened in the parieto-occipital region.
  • The face was broad, flat, and short.
  • As a result, the long, narrow head was paired with a short, broad, flat face, creating an unbalanced combination.
  • The orbits were shaped like rectangles.
  • The width exceeded the height by a significant margin.
  • The zygomatic region was large, prominent, and powerful.
  • The nose was leptorrhine, which means that it was long and narrow.
  • There were a lot of bones in the nose. Prognathism was noticeable in the maxillary regions.
  • The palate was shallow and narrow, with a moderately protruding projection.
  • The lower jaw was powerful but not particularly large.
  • The ascending ramii weren’t particularly broad.
  • The sigmoid notch extended quite far.
  • There was a well-defined chin.
  • The polymeric femur had a well-developed linea Aspera and was strongly bowed out.
  • The tibia was platonic, meaning, it was flat on both sides.
  • Phylogenetic position: Cro-Magnons were anatomically similar to modern Europeans, but they had more robust features such as broader and shorter faces, prominent brow ridges, and larger teeth.

In comparison to most modern Europeans, Cro-Magnons had shorter upper jaws, more horizontally oriented cheekbones, and more rectangular eye sockets, which are more common in East Asian populations. Natural selection for lighter skin did not begin until 30,000 years ago, and it was not until the Bronze Age that whiter skin became common in Europe.

The Cro-Magnons had a low population density, a tall stature comparable to post-industrial humans, extensive trade routes stretching up to 900 kilometres (560 miles), and they hunted large game animals.


In the scientific community, the discovery of more than 10,000-year-old human remains is always caused for celebration. These kinds of discoveries are rare and valuable because each new sample or technique can reveal new threads in our understanding of human evolution. As a result, all human bones, both old and new, must be measured, cast, and sampled regularly. The positive (plaster, plastic, bronze, etc.) is cast, and the negative (usually a type of rubber) is created by brushing or pouring a material over the original. Bone or soft tissue can be used to make the cast.


Frequently asked questions

Get answers to the most common queries related to the UPSC Examination Preparation.

What compelled the Cro-Magnons to create cave paintings and artefacts?

Ans. Beasts and well-known caves are depicted in paintings. Their scribbles were often heavily outlined, and the bum...Read full

What did Cro-Magnon do exactly?

Ans. Cro-Magnon man used tools, spoke and likely sang, crafted weapons, lived in huts, wove cloth, wore skins, made ...Read full

What distinguished the Cro-Magnon man from other homo sapiens?

Ans. The body of the Cro-Magnon appeared to be heavy and solid, with strong musculature. The face was short and wide...Read full