by Brooks Hays
Washington (UPI) Oct 20, 2017
Researchers in Germany have recovered an unusual set of teeth estimated to be 9.7 million years old. The teeth are unlike any found in Europe or Asia, but closely resemble the teeth of Lucy, the famed female specimen of the hominin species Australopithecus afarensis.
Scientists found the teeth while sifting through sediment in the Rhine river near Eppelsheim, a small city in southwestern Germany.
"They are clearly ape-teeth," lead researcher Herbert Lutz told the German newspaper Merkurist. "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."
Because the teeth most closely resemble the much younger remains of pre-human relatives in Africa, the discovery may force paleontologists to rethink the "Out of Africa" theory of human evolution.
"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," Mainz Mayor Michael Ebling said at a press conference announcing the discovery on Wednesday.
Though scientists are still examining the teeth, researchers detailed their analysis so far in a paper pre-published online with ResearchGate.
The two teeth making up the set were found separately, but scientists say they are certain the pair belonged to the same specimen.
"Both teeth represent a hitherto unknown great ape with startling hominin resemblances," scientists wrote in their study.
The team of German researchers apparently sat on their findings for more than a year before publishing, wanting to make sure their analysis and conclusions were sound.
Researchers have previously found evidence of apes roaming Europe several million years ago, but no hominins have ever been found. Most paleontologists believe the earliest human lineages split in Africa between 5 million and 7 million years ago, and that the first modern humans emerged from East Africa between 400,000 and 200,000 years ago.
A few studies published in recent months have challenged the assumed timeline, however.
One study published earlier this year presented a pair of teeth found in Greece and Bulgaria as proof the human-chimp split occurred in the Mediterranean. Scientists at the University of Toronto claimed the teeth belonged to a hominin-like ape and were between 7.24 and 7.175 million years old -- older than the earliest pre-human species from Africa.
Despite the recent discoveries of odd-looking teeth, the evidence of early humans evolving in Europe remains scant. A jaw bone, teeth and some footprints are dwarfed by an extensive collection of fossils belonging to African hominins like Homo naledi and Homo floresiensis.
Still, the latest discovery presents a mystery that requires explaining -- a mystery researchers think other scientists will take seriously.
"This will amaze experts," regional archaeologist Axel von Berg told the German newspaper Allgemeine Zeitung.
Washington (UPI) Oct 18, 2017
New research suggests the duplication of noncoding DNA could help explain the genetic diversity that fueled the divergence of humans from their primate relatives. Human-specific duplications are DNA strands of at least 1,000 base pairs that are repeated in humans but not primates or other animals. In order to identify genetic differences between humans and primates, scientists scan the ... read more
All About Human Beings and How We Got To Be Here
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|