When people think of prehistoric Europe, they typically picture the early Holocene, covered here, but as that post discusses, the pristine European wilderness was already gone by then. No, to see Europe as it would still have looked today if not for our presence, one must go back to the Eemian, also known as the last interglacial. Spanning from 130,000 to 115,000 years ago, it was the last point in time when the climate resembled todays, but the megafauna had not yet died out. All of the modern species we know today already existed, and at a cursory glance it would have looked quite similar, but the Eemian was to modern Europe what present day southern Africa is to its northern counterpart, an unspoilt, pristine version of the latter, in which the now vanished giants were not just present, but dominated the landscape. In this post I will be covering primarily western Europe, as that is the place with which I am most familiar, and we will explore a Europe quite different from what we know today.
Trafalgar Square, 130,000 years ago, by Roman Uchytel