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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a generalized (nontaxonomic) term for fossil men who inhabited Asia, Africa, and Europe 250,000 to 35,000 years ago. Geologically this corresponds to the time from the end of the Mindel-Riss interglacial stage until almost the middle of the Würm glaciation. Middle and late Acheulean cultures are characteristic of early Palaeoanthropus, and variants of Mousterian cultures of late Palaeoanthropus. Palaeoanthropus represents an ordered step in anthropogenesis, preceding the appearance of recent man (Neoanthropinae).

Palaeoanthropus can be divided into several groups differing from one another in anthropological characteristics and to some extent in their stone implements: early and late European Palaeoanthropus, southern African and southern Asian forms, and Palaeoanthropus of Southwest Asia. The last group, dating from about 70,000 to 60,000 years ago, is especially interesting, since many of its features resemble those of modern man (Homo sapiens). Many researchers regard it as an ancestral form of Neoanthropinae. Late Palaeoanthropus of Western Europe (Neanderthal man) is characterized by a high degree of morphological specialization, differs substantially from modern man, and is often listed as a side branch in phylogenetic classifications.


Nesturkh, M. F. Proiskhozhdenie cheloveka, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1970.
Uryson, M. I. “Nachal’nye etapy stanovleniia cheloveka.” In the collection U istokov chelovechestva. Moscow, 1964.
Ivanova, I. K. Geologicheskii vozrast chelovechestva. Moscow, 1965.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.