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9.7 million-year-old hominin teeth discovered

23 posts in this topic

 

Wow, coupling this finding with the 5.7 million years old footprints in Crete really opens up a lot of possibilities! 

I am quite curious what the peer review will say, but we are really living in interesting times! 

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These researchers should exercise caution, because hominin-like teeth have convergently evolved before. Case in point being Gigantopithecus, which evolved hominin-like teeth despite being a close relative of orangutans.

Edited by Carnoferox
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Impressive. Mine's probably won't even last past my 60s.

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The convergent evolution of traits, like the shape of teeth, reportedly requires that similar ecological niches be occupied  by each of the species concerned. The question here would be: would such niches be available in central East Africa around 3 million years ago, and in southern Germany, about 9.7 million years ago? Since teeth are involved in this case, the sort of food available would seem to be of prime importance. I will look further into this question, and see what can be found out.  

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12 hours ago, Carnoferox said:

These researchers should exercise caution, because hominin-like teeth have convergently evolved before. Case in point being Gigantopithecus, which evolved hominin-like teeth despite being a close relative of orangutans.

Can u guys post a link to elaborate on the evolution of man as captured by scientists.? 

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14 hours ago, Carnoferox said:

These researchers should exercise caution, because hominin-like teeth have convergently evolved before. Case in point being Gigantopithecus, which evolved hominin-like teeth despite being a close relative of orangutans.

That is why apparently they waited one year before publishing. 

Anyway, let's wait and see what their peers say. 

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6 hours ago, Parsec said:

That is why apparently they waited one year before publishing. 

According to the paper, the find was made in September 2016, they didn't wait, they went hell for leather to get the paper put together, that's not to say they did anything wrong, but they didn't wait by any means. This might well be an issue. 

 

21 hours ago, Carnoferox said:

These researchers should exercise caution, because hominin-like teeth have convergently evolved before. Case in point being Gigantopithecus, which evolved hominin-like teeth despite being a close relative of orangutans.

Exactly, and it's the same in many other groups too. It's not exactly the best way to establish taxonomy.

Here's the pre-print

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320518472_A_new_great_ape_with_startling_resemblances_to_African_members_of_the_hominin_tribe_excavated_from_the_Mid-Vallesian_Dinotheriensande_of_Eppelsheim_First_report_Hominoidea_Miocene_MN_9_Proto-Rhine_Riv

7 hours ago, Parsec said:

Anyway, let's wait and see what their peers say. 

Yes. 

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I don't believe that anything organic could last 9.7 million years , and that would be well before the river was formed , maybe some unfortunate creature fell into the river a few thousand years ago ,but not 9.7 Million years ago.

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Over a year elapsed between the discovery of the teeth and publication of the scientific paper. Time for a good deal of study, which is clearly reflected in that paper.

It is difficult to ascertain if similar-enough ecological niches would have existed in both Germany and East Africa, at the appropriate times, to cause convergent dental evolution. The canine tooth--'eye' tooth' that was found is reportedly of reduced size and shape, meaning it is more like our own than those of our very early predecessors. The teeth seem to most closely resemble those of the australopithecines, in a number of ways.                                                                                                                          

Did a fairly advanced form of hominid, transitional between ape and human, exist in Europe, nearly 10 million years ago? Time, and further study may tell us this. If this turns out to be the case, we will have to work out it's implications for the existing scheme of African origin of hominids, and later migrations. Perhaps this new find represents a surprisingly advanced type that migrated earlier from Africa than any previously known.   

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wow, counting in millions, compare how small our lifespan is...

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11 hours ago, DebDandelion said:

Can u guys post a link to elaborate on the evolution of man as captured by scientists.? 

I don't really know of one source that could tell you everything there is to know about human evolution. You should use Google Scholar and search for scientific papers relating to this topic.

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1 hour ago, spud the mackem said:

I don't believe that anything organic could last 9.7 million years , and that would be well before the river was formed , maybe some unfortunate creature fell into the river a few thousand years ago ,but not 9.7 Million years ago.

You'd be surprised to learn then that soft tissues can survive for 500 million years via carbonization.

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9 minutes ago, Carnoferox said:

I don't really know of one source that could tell you everything there is to know about human evolution. You should use Google Scholar and search for scientific papers relating to this topic.

We know relatively little about human evolution anyway. I'm beginning to think that maybe hominids sprang up independently throughout the World.

Edited by seanjo
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7 hours ago, oldrover said:

According to the paper, the find was made in September 2016, they didn't wait, they went hell for leather to get the paper put together, that's not to say they did anything wrong, but they didn't wait by any means. This might well be an issue. 

Well, we are almost in November 2017, doesn't that make more than one year from the find? 

 

Regardless, I agree with you that they could have possibly invested more time in research before publishing.

 

On the other hand, that's why peer review exists. 

If they have been careless with such a groundbreaking claim, I guess they will be torn apart.

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17 hours ago, DebDandelion said:

Can u guys post a link to elaborate on the evolution of man as captured by scientists.? 

The article linked below gives a good outline of what we believe we know about human and pre-human evolution:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_human_evolution

Scroll down to sections headed  'Hominidae' and 'Homo' for details.

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Damn our ancestor were travelling a lot !

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It's important with discoveries like these to look at scientific articles rather that sensationalist journalism. So, what is the paper actually arguing? Here's the abstract with certain parts highlighted:

Quote

In September 2016, two teeth of an up to now undescribed member of the Hominoidea have been uncovered from sediments of the Proto-Rhine River near Eppelsheim, Germany, the type locality for the Eppelsheim Formation (i. e. Dinotheriensande) and of 25 mammals of various systematic positions. Together with other finds from Eppelsheim and the Wissberg location, which is only 18 km away, these are the northernmost occurrences of Miocene primates in Europe. Both teeth, the crowns of an upper left canine and an upper right first molar, are exceptionally well preserved and obviously come from the same body of unknown sex. Their sedimentological environment and the accompanying faunal elements point to an age shortly before the Mid-Vallesian crisis at ca. 9.7 Ma. While the molar shares characters with various other taxa, the canine reveals intriguingly potential hominin affinities: its lingual outline is clearly diamond-shaped; its ratio of lingual height / mesiodistal length is within the range of Australopithecus afarensis, Ardipithecus ramidus, Ardipithecus kadabba, and females of Pan troglodytes. The relative size of the canine, i. e. the ratio of the buccal heights of C and M1, is similar to those of e.g. Dryopithecus sp., Ankarapithecus meteai but also Ardipithecus ramidus. Both, reduced size and shape of the canine likely indicate that the new species from Eppelsheim had lost a honing (C/p3) complex already ca. 9.7 Ma ago. From all information gathered up to now, the question arises, if the newly discovered Eppelsheim species may be related to members of the African hominin tribe.

So basically, the authors are contending that one of the two teeth has some similarities with hominin teeth, and wonder if there may be a relation. That's it. No claims that these are hominins or that they're definitively related to hominins.

Now, let's consider what we already know about human evolution. Hominins are defined by bipedalism--we can't classify remains as a hominin unless they show definitive evidence for bipedalism, which usually requires postcranial remains (though sometimes an argument can be made based on the foramen magnum of intact skulls). Genetics tells us that humans are very closely related to chimpanzees and bonobos, and that we share a common ancestor with them, who logically would have lived in Africa. Estimates from the genetic clock (which isn't very accurate, but is still worth mentioning) put the most recent common ancestor between us and chimps somewhere around 5-7 million years ago. So if these teeth come from a human ancestor, then it must have migrated into Africa and was the ancestor to both chimps and humans.

Of course, the most likely explanation for these teeth is convergent evolution--this ape happened to develop some features that developed independently in hominins later on.

Edited by Everdred
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4 hours ago, Everdred said:

It's important with discoveries like these to look at scientific articles rather that sensationalist journalism

Yes, that's very true. 

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The scientific paper about the newly discovered teeth refers in two places to 'startling resemblances to African members of the hominin tribe' and 'perplexing resemblances' to that same group. The difficulty, of course, is their great age, much greater than than of the oldest supposed hominids. 

The group of hominids is made up of modern and extinct humans, and species closely related to or ancestral to humans. These are the genera--homo, australopithecus, paranthropus, and ardipithecus.

It just may turn out that the ancient course of the Rhine river will prove to be as  important to our understanding of hominin evolution as those famous paleontological sites in East Africa. 

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On 22/10/2017 at 2:35 AM, bison said:

The article linked below gives a good outline of what we believe we know about human and pre-human evolution:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_human_evolution

Scroll down to sections headed  'Hominidae' and 'Homo' for details.

Thank u . I wanted just this overview. 

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On 21/10/2017 at 7:53 PM, Carnoferox said:

I don't really know of one source that could tell you everything there is to know about human evolution. You should use Google Scholar and search for scientific papers relating to this topic.

Thanx. But i am not so interested in the matter.(topic) I was trying to wrap my brain around some of the content. Was looking for a broad layout to help me create a timeline. Received a link from another poster that helped with that

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There is an interesting (although disappointing) update:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/teeth-fossil-human-history-truth-evolution-development-germany-rhine-mainz-archaeology-a8023531.html

Quote

David Begun of the University of Toronto, and one of the world’s leading palaeoanthropologists, told The Independent neither tooth had a resemblance to Lucy, or any other primate closely related to humans.

[...] 

Maria Martinon-Torres, a palaeontologist at University College London who specialises in dental evidence, told The Independent that while it was not a hominin - species closely related to humans - the findings could still add to our knowledge of ancient primates.

“I think these teeth belong to a very old primate,” she said. “But they do not belong to a hominin.”

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