The Cro-Magnons form the earliest known examples of Homo sapiens sapiens, the subspecies to which modern humans belong. Archaeologists believe them to have lived from about 45,000 to 10,000 years ago in the Upper Paleolithic period of the Pleistocene epoch. For all intents and purposes these people were anatomically modern, only differing from their modern day descendants in Europe by their slightly more robust physiology and brains which were about 4 percent larger than that of modern man. The Cro-Magnons could be descended from any number of subspecies of Homo sapiens that emerged from Africa approximately 100,000 thousand years ago, such as Homo sapiens idaltu.
The geologist Louis Lartet discovered the first five skeletons in March 1868 in the Cro-Magnon rock shelter at Les Eyzies, Dordogne, France. The definitive specimen from this find bears the name 'Cro Magnon I'. The skeletons showed the same high forehead, upright posture and slender (gracile) skeleton as modern humans. Other specimens have since come to light in other parts of Europe and in the Middle East. The European individuals probably arrived from north Africa and the Middle East.
Surviving Cro-Magnon artifacts include huts, paintings, carvings and antler-tipped spears. The remains of tools suggest that they knew how to make woven clothing. They had huts, constructed of rocks, clay, bones, branches, and animal hide/fur.
It is believed that they created the first calendar around 32,000 B.C.
The flint tools found in association with the remains at Cro-Magnon have associations with the Aurignacian culture that Lartet had identified a few years before he found the skeletons.