Mystery Tooth Fossil Baffles Archaeologists and Could Mean First Humans Lived in Europe Not Africa

Archaeologists in Germany believe they may have stumbled upon a set of nine-million-year-old teeth that could rewrite human history by suggesting the first humans lived in Europe rather than in Africa.

The teeth, of a kind never seen before in either Europe or Asia but closely resembling those found belonging to the first humanoid skeletons discovered in Africa, were discovered in a dried-up riverbed near Eppelsheim in Germany’s Rhineland.

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The unique fossils were uncovered as scientists sifted through gravel and sand in the bed of the Ur-Rhine a former course of the Rhine river. The site has been the source for a series of important discoveries since the nineteenth century.

According to Deutsche Welle, the specialist team has dated the fossils as 9.5-million-years-old, four million years older than the oldest hominin species ever discovered in Africa, including the skeletons of ‘Lucy’ and ‘Ardi’, the first examples of Australopithecus afarensis and Ardipithecus ramidus found in Ethiopia.

 

 

The leader of the excavation team Herbert Lutz told local German press the teeth clearly belonged to an ape of some kind. “Their characteristics resemble African finds that are four to five million years younger than the fossils excavated in Eppelsheim. This is a tremendous stroke of luck, but also a great mystery," he explained.

The mayor of the nearby German town of Mainz where the discovery was unveiled said  scientists would now have to reexamine presuppositions about the earliest point of mankind’s history.

"I don't want to over-dramatize it, but I would hypothesize that we shall have to start rewriting the history of mankind after today," Michael Ebling said.

Archaeologist Axel von Berg, an expert on the region, has said he expects the find to receive a great deal of attention in the scientific community.  "This will amaze experts,” he said.

The possible magnitude of the discovery and the mystery surrounding it meant the team held off for 12 months before going public with the find. The first academic paper on the teeth is due to be released in one week's time.

Detailed analysis on the finds also continue and they are due to so on display at the local Rhineland-Palatinate state exhibition at the end of the month. Later they will be displayed at the Museum of Natural History in Mainz.

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