Its population was wiped out thousands of years later - to be replaced by the Neanderthals.
Mankind may have arrived in Europe 150,000 years earlier than previously thought, researchers say, after reassessing an ancient skull found inside a cave in Greece.
Prof Harvati said the discovery revealed a mixture of modern human and archaic characteristics, with Apidima 2 determined as a Neanderthal and Apidima 1 possessing characteristics that indicate it being an early Homo Sapiens.
It is considered to be consensus in the scientific community that the anatomically modern humans developed in Africa and from there to all over the world has spread.
The researchers announced their findings in the British science journal Nature on Wednesday.
When the researchers removed the skulls from their surrounding rock using a chisel and hammer, tiny bone fragments became dislodged as well.
Professor Rainer Grün, Director of Griffith's Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution (ARCHE), was part of the worldwide research team led by Prof Katerina Harvati from the Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment, at the University of Tübingen, Germany. The skulls were not removed from the breccia and remained at the museum.
But they had not been described in detail owing to the fragmented nature of the specimens.
The more complete skull appears to be a Neanderthal.
In contrast, Apidima 2 showed distinctly Neanderthal-like features, including a prominent brow ridge.
They scanned the fossils and created 3D reconstructions of them. The shape of each skull was compared with those of other species from the fossil record.
Apidima 2, which is essentially just the facial region of a skull without the lower jaw, matched yet again as a Neanderthal skull, despite its distortion.
"The advantage of the method is that is uses up a very little amount of material and that gives us an opportunity to date valuable fossils like the Apidima skulls", Professor Grun said.
In the new findings, published in the journal Nature, an worldwide team of researchers used state-of-the art computer modelling and uranium dating to re-examine the skull - one of two found fossilised and badly damaged in the Greek cave. The rounded back is just like a modern human's; Neanderthals have a bulge at the back of the skull that nearly resembles a hair bun.
That makes the skull by far the oldest modern human remains ever discovered on the continent, and older than any known Homo sapiens specimen outside of Africa.
Until now, the earliest fossil evidence for modern humans outside Africa was from the Misliya cave in Israel, where scientists had found a jawbone dated between 194,000 and 177,000 years old.
One of them, named Apidima 2 after the cave in which the pair were found, proved to be 170,000 years old and did indeed belong to a Neanderthal. Previously, it had been assumed they would both be the same age, given that they were found in the same breccia and only the breccia was initially dated.
But the cave system where they were found allowed for the remains of humans and animals from different time periods to accumulate.
The cave is reachable only by water now. Southern Greece would have been attractive during glacial times, offering a milder climate, the researchers said.
Then, Neanderthals lived in the area. And about 40,000 years ago, the last of the Neanderthals died off, and modern humans thrived.
Genetic evidence strongly suggests that all the humans alive today can trace their ancestry to groups of modern humans that trudged out of Africa into Eurasia along different directions between 70,000 and 50,000 years ago.