There is no sudden change reflected in the hominin fossil record that would either support or suggest a replacement of one species by another. What can clearly be ascertained from the available archaeological record is that over a period of tens of thousands of years beginning around 50,000 years ago there was a gradual transition from robust to gracile individuals (Bednarik 2012b).
In terms of artefacts, the term ‘Aurignacian' simply refers to the etic interpretation of a loosely defined transition in stone artefact technology deemed to be of particular importance by archaeologists. It is an observer relative institutionalised fact - an archaeofact - having no independent existence outside of the discipline that coined the term.
The 'Aurignacian' is one of fifteen different locally developing 'cultural' traditions recognised within what is termed the EUP (European Upper Palaeolithic - generally regarded to span a period from about 45,000 to around 27,000 years before present) None of these recognised traditions have a precedent in Africa and nowhere in Europe do stone technologies suddenly appear or replace the pre-existing technology (Bednarik 2013). At Theopetra Cave, Greece, this technological transition was recorded in-situ and in association with 'Neanderthal' footprints of small children. ‘EUP’ industries arise at sites from as early as 54,000 years ago (e.g. Senftenberg), to as late as just 8,000 years ago (e.g. Abric Agut) (Bednarik 2011).
The observed transition presents a mosaic of geographically, technologically and chronologically diverse changes in knapping methods across a large region with a tendency toward miniaturisation and increased blade production, none of which are biological markers, and none of which can be assumed to be cultural or ethnic markers either. Once again then, Nigst et al make the common mistake of conflating technological markers with cultural, biological and behavioural markers.