Extremely Unexpected Find Means We May Have To Rewrite The Human Evolution Textbook Again

The teeth may be from a hominin-like animal, but could also be from an ape. Lutz etal. 2017

Josh Davis 20 Oct 2017, 22:28

Researchers claim they have uncovered evidence of ancient hominin-like creatures comparable to Australopithecus. Even more intriguingly, they were discovered not in East Africa as would be expected, but in Germany instead. The two teeth discovered date to 9.7 million years ago – which, if proved correct, would rewrite our origins, although there are some serious doubts that need to be cleared first.  

If these fossils are proven to be that of animals similar to the famous bipedal Australopithecus from East Africa – and that is a big if – then it could have some seriously profound implications for the story 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,” Herbert Lutz, director of the Natural History Museum in Mainz, told local media this week as he revealed the discovery. The paper is currently in pre-print. “This is a tremendous stroke of luck, but also a great mystery.”

This would be an astonishing find not only because there have never been any comparable early hominins like this found in Europe before, but also because if the dating is correct, then the species was knocking around some 6 million years before the famous Lucy was laid to rest in Ethiopia. The current estimate for the last common ancestor between chimps and humans ranges from around 10 million to 7 million years ago, although one recent study suggests that it might have been as long at 13 million years ago.

The researchers have found two teeth to date. Lutz et al. 2017
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