Fossil discovery delivers blow to ‘Out of Africa’ theory

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Fossil discovery delivers blow to ‘Out of Africa’ theory

Post by Seva Lamberdar on Thu Jun 22, 2017 1:23 pm

By Neil Syson, (May 23, 2017)

A fossilized tooth belonging to an ape-like creature that roamed Bulgaria 7.2 million years ago could rewrite history as we know it.

Scientists say the species, which is known only from a lower jawbone and a single tooth, may prove that modern man originated in Europe and not Africa. The findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE.

The creature, known as Graecopithecus freybergi and nicknamed “El Graeco,” may be the oldest known member of the human lineage that began after a split from the branch that led to chimpanzees, our closest cousins.

The jawbone, which included teeth, was unearthed in 1944 in Athens, Greece.

The tooth was found in Azmaka, south-central Bulgaria, in 2009.

Researchers examined both sets of remains using sophisticated techniques such as CT scans and established their age by dating the sedimentary rock in which they were found.

They found dental root development that had characteristics not seen in chimps and their ancestors, placing El Graeco within the human lineage, known as hominins.

Until now, the oldest known hominin was thought to be Sahelanthropus, which lived 6 million to 7 million years ago in Chad, Africa.

Considering both Graecopithecus fossils hail from the Balkans, the eastern Mediterranean may have given rise to the human lineage, the researchers said.

However, the findings in no way call into question that our species, Homo sapiens, first appeared in Africa about 200,000 years ago and later migrated to other parts of the world, the researchers said.

“Our species evolved in Africa. Our lineage may not have,” said paleoanthropologist Madelaine Böhme of Germany’s University of Tübingen.

She added that the findings “may change radically our understanding of early human origin.”

Homo sapiens is only the latest in a long evolutionary hominin line that began with overwhelmingly ape-like species, followed by a succession of species acquiring more and more human traits over time.

University of Toronto paleoanthropologist David Begun said the possibility that the evolutionary split occurred outside Africa is not incompatible with later ancestors arising there.

“We know that many of the mammals of Africa did, in fact, originate in Eurasia and dispersed into Africa at around the time Graecopithecus lived,” Begun said.

“So why not Graecopithecus as well?”

Graecopithecus is a mysterious species because its fossils are so sparse.

It was roughly the size of a female chimp and lived in a dry mixed woodland-grassland environment, similar to today’s African savanna, alongside antelopes, giraffes, rhinos, elephants, hyenas and warthogs.

http://nypost.com/2017/05/23/this-fossilized-tooth-might-prove-humans-came-from-europe-not-africa/










 





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Seva Lamberdar

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