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Europe, not Africa, was birthplace of mankind


Posted on Tuesday, 23 May, 2017 | Comment icon 25 comments

Did humans split from apes in Europe ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 William H. Calvin
A remarkable new palaeontological discovery in Europe could rewrite the history of human evolution.
For years, it was generally understood that humans had split from apes around seven million years ago in Africa where they had remained for another five million years before venturing further afield.

Now though, in a groundbreaking new discovery in Bulgaria and Greece, scientists have unearthed fossil teeth dating back 7.2 million years, a find that suggests mankind did not first split from apes in Africa at all but had in fact already started to evolve in Europe 200,000 years earlier.

The species, Graecopithecus freybergi, has the potential to rewrite the beginnings of human history and places the last known common ancestor of chimps and humans in the Mediterranean region.

"This study changes the ideas related to the knowledge about the time and the place of the first steps of the humankind," said Professor Nikolai Spassov. "Graecopithecus is not an ape. He is a member of the tribe of hominins and the direct ancestor of homo."

"To some extent this is a newly discovered missing link. But missing links will always exist, because evolution is [an] infinite chain of subsequent forms."

Scientists believe that during this time, the Mediterranean Sea experienced frequent periods of drying up which meant that early hominids could have easily crossed between Africa and Europe.

"Our findings may eventually change our ideas about the origin of humanity," said Professor Madelaine Bohme of the University of Tubingen.

"I personally don't think that the descendants of Graecopithecus die out, they may have spread to Africa later. The split of chimps and humans was a single event. Our data support the view that this split was happening in the eastern Mediterranean - not in Africa."

"If accepted, this theory will indeed alter the very beginning of human history."

Source: Telegraph | Comments (25)

Tags: Human, Europe, Africa

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #16 Posted by Frank Merton on 24 May, 2017, 4:44
Knowledge of human paleontology now numbers in the hundreds of fossils. The general outline is now well understood. Inform yourself.
Comment icon #17 Posted by stereologist on 24 May, 2017, 13:12
Be careful mixing ideas derived from statistical methods and ideas from discoveries. The "milk, chocolate, and wine" studies are done using statistics. They do initial studies using low numbers of test subjects. That is done to reduce costs. They get a result which has a 95% chance of being correct. There is also a 1 in 20 chance of being wrong and wrong by chance, not by poor work or sloppy work or poorly designed experiments. Positive results lead to better studies reducing the chance of error. A discovery such as a tooth, jaw, piece of pottery, carving, etc. does not have this 1 in 20 chanc... [More]
Comment icon #18 Posted by DieChecker on 24 May, 2017, 15:32
I agree that it seems unlikely, as all other early hominids have shown up in Africa. I've read that chimpanzee fossils are extremely rare. Partly due to the habitats they live in, where the environment recycles organic matter pretty quick.
Comment icon #19 Posted by Podo on 24 May, 2017, 18:56
This is a great discovery, and whatever it turns out to be will undoubtedly be interesting. That being said, I think it's a bit premature to declare that we know 100% that humans evolved in the Balkans instead of Africa.
Comment icon #20 Posted by PersonFromPorlock on 24 May, 2017, 22:40
IIRC, h. Heidelbergensis spent 90 years being represented only by a mandible.
Comment icon #21 Posted by Gingitsune on 25 May, 2017, 22:34
And that's when DNA come in. Comparing the DNA from living... things (animals, plants, bacteria, etc.) we get this tree of life (we are among the eukaryotes): I spare you the bit about lobster and spiders, fast forwards to vertebrates: And the final branches around humans: So either the aliens pets were proto-bacteria or they only tinkered a little bit with a local species.
Comment icon #22 Posted by docyabut2 on 25 May, 2017, 23:31
Comment icon #23 Posted by John Sawyer on 29 May, 2017, 13:53
Is that a young Andy Kaufman being used as a representative for humans? I also notice that "Loki" and "Thor" are represented among the eukaryotes.
Comment icon #24 Posted by Codenwarra on 5 June, 2017, 20:33
Ho hum, another fragment for paleoanthropologists to squabble over. One authority will say X, another will say Z, a third will say Y. Infifty years time, more evidence will turn up which will show that one was right or they were all wrong.
Comment icon #25 Posted by Peter Cox on 6 June, 2017, 7:52
Well not really true, some of the most complete and comprehensive remains of "ape" ancestors have been found in Africa (Richard Leaky research in Ethiopia) and Wit University in South Africa (cradle of human kind) sure none as old as 7.2 million years ago, but lots of fossils and more being found regularly in Africa.


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