Paleolithic Europe refers to the Paleolithic period of Europe, a prehistoric era distinguished by the development of the first stone tools and which covers roughly 99% of human technological history. It extends from the introduction of stone tools by hominids 1.8 million years ago, to the introduction of agriculture and the end of the Pleistocene around 12,000 BP.
It is believed that Homo erectus evolved into Homo heidelbergensis and subsequently Homo neanderthalensis in Paleolithic Europe, before being replaced by modern humans migrating out of Africa approximately 50,000 years ago. The bones of the earliest Europeans are found in Dmanisi, Georgia, and are 1.8 million years old. The oldest evidence of human occupation in Eastern Europe comes from the Kozarnika cave in Bulgaria where a single human tooth and flint artifacts have been dated to at least 1.4 million years ago. In Western Europe at Atapuerca in Spain, human remains have been found that are from 1.2 million years ago The earliest appearance of European early modern humans has been dated to 43,000 years ago from a tooth found in the Grotta del Cavallo in Italy in 1969.
The Japanese Paleolithic period (旧石器時代 kyūsekki jidai) began around 50,000 to 30,000 BC, when the earliest stone tool implements have been found, and continued to around 14,000 BC, at the end of the last ice age, which corresponds to the beginning of the Mesolithic Jōmon period. The 35,000 BC date is most generally accepted: any date of human presence before 30,000–35,000 BC is controversial, with artifacts supporting a pre–35,000 BC human presence on the archipelago still being of questionable authenticity.
The earliest human bones were discovered in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka. Radiocarbon dating has shown that the fossils date back to around 14,000 - 18,000 years ago.