Some researchers claim that they have uncovered evidence of ancient hominin-like creatures which are comparable to Australopithecus. What is even more intriguingly, they were discovered not in East Africa as it would be expected, but in Germany. The two teeth discovered date to 9.7 million years ago. If proved correct this could rewrite our origins, although there are some serious doubts that need to be cleared.
If the fossils prove to be that of animals similar to the famous bipedal Australopithecus from East Africa … Then it may have some seriously profound implications for the story of the evolution of humans.
The director of the Natural History Museum in Mainz, Herbert Lutz, says about the discovery:
I don’t want to over-dramatize it. But I would hypothesize that we should start rewriting the history of the mankind after today.
The paper is still in pre-printing. He also said that this was a tremendous stroke of luck, as well as a great mystery.
This can be considered as an astonishing find.
The reason for this is not just because there was never any comparable early hominins like this found in Europe before. If the dating is correct, then the species showed up 6 million years before the famous Lucy was laid to rest in Ethiopia. The current estimate ranges from around 10 million to 7 million years ago. It is for the last common ancestor of chimps and humans. Even though one study from recently suggests that it may have been as long as 13 million years ago.
The dating of these hominin-like teeth would fit in with that if this older figure is correct. Still, there are some other factors which we should take into consideration.
Another thing which is also interesting in this scenario is that these fossils were discovered in Eastern Europe. It is not an unusual thing to find some evidence of primates across the Europe, and some authors even note in their paper that while the size and dimensions of the newly discovered teeth are within those known for various Australopithecus species, they fall within the range for female chimps too.
So, if this is the case, then the 9.7-million-year-old teeth could simply be an as-yet-unknown species of ape which were once living in the forests of ancient Germany. What can also turn out of course is that the researchers are indeed correct with their initial understandings, and the discovery also completely rewrites what we thought that we knew about the evolution of humans. We guess that we should just wait and see what happens. [Inspired by IFL/Image Credit: Benheine]