The first human ancestor comes from Europe. A 7.2 million-year old fossil that rewrites man’s origin.

The first human ancestor comes from Europe. A 7.2 million-year old fossil that rewrites man’s origin.

Credit: Velizar Simeonovski/Science Alert
Credit: Velizar Simeonovski/Science Alert

Two 7.2 million-year old fossils have been recently reviewed.

These suggest that humans have separated from primates a few hundred of thousand of years earlier than we thought. This fossil can be the oldest species of hominin ever discovered.

We know that humans and chimps (Pan troglodytes) have the same common ancestor, but the place and time of evolutionary divergence is deliberately debated.

Using 3D reconstructions of the roots and structure of fossil teeth, scientists have discovered common features with modern humans. They suggested that G. Freybergi is part of the hominine branch (the evolutionary branch of modern people).

Fossilised jaw (l) and premolar (r) of Graecopithecus. Credit: Wolfgang Gerber, University of Tübingen
Fossilised jaw (l) and premolar (r) of Graecopithecus. Credit: Wolfgang Gerber, University of Tübingen

The fossil is the oldest of its kind that have ever been discovered.

David Begun, of the University of Toronto, Canada, says that ‘if he is indeed a hominin, he would be the oldest human ancestor and also the first to be found outside of Africa.’

If it was previously believed that the origin of the people comes from Africa, then we were mistaken.

However, researchers are aware that there is little evidence to be able to accurately predict European human origins.

Fossil dating is based on the analysis of two sites in Greece and Bulgaria. The mandible (coming from Greece) is 7.175 million years old, and the premolar (coming from Bulgaria) is 7.24 million years old. It is believed that at that time the Mediterranean Sea did not even exist and there was a savanna.

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