Researchers assert that they’ve discovered proof of ancient hominin-like creatures similar to Australopithecus. Even more interesting, they certainly were discovered maybe not in East Africa as would be expected, but in Germany instead. Both teeth found, date to 9.7 million years ago – that, if proved correct, would rewrite our roots, even though there a few severe doubts that have to be eliminated first.
If these fossils are demonstrated to be that of creatures like the renowned bipedal East African Australopithecus – and that is actually a big if – then it might involve some seriously deep consequences for the story of human evolution.
“I really don’t want to overdramatize it, but I’d hypothesize that people will need to start rewriting the history of humanity after today,” the director of the Natural History Museum in Mainz, Herbert Lutz, told local press this week since he revealed the discovery. The newspaper is now at preprint. “This really is a very great stroke of fortune, however a great mystery.”
This would be an amazing discovery not only because there’ve never been any similar early hominins like this found in Europe previously, but additionally because if the dating is right, then the species was knocking around 6 million years before the well known Lucy was laid to rest in Ethiopia. The present estimate for the final common ancestor between chimps and humans ranges from approximately 10 million to 7 million years ago, even though one recent analysis suggests that it may possibly have been as long as 13 million years ago.
In case this elderly figure is true, then the dating of these hominin-like teeth would match with that. Yet there are additional factors to take into consideration. Earlier this year, researchers stated that they had found what they believed to be fossil proof of the last common ancestor of chimps and humans, which put the process of diverging at around 7.2 million years ago.
What is more interesting, is that these fossils were found in Eastern Europe. This lines up well with the recent discoveries from Germany date-wise, but only as long as they aren’t hominin in origin. It’s not strange to find proof of primates around Europe, and the authors even note in their newspaper that as the dimensions and the size of those newly discovered teeth are within those known for different Australopithecus species, they additionally fall within the range for female chimps, too.
If this really is the situation, then the 9.7-million-year-old teeth might just be a so far not known species of ape that was once living in the woods of ancient Germany. Obviously, it might also turn out that the researchers are really correct using their initial understandings and this discovery as an alternative totally rewrites what we thought we knew about human evolution. I assume we’ll just need to wait and see.