‘Earliest ancestor to humanity’ found in Europe

‘Earliest ancestor to humanity’ found in Europe


Europe, not East Africa, might have spawned the first members of the human evolutionary family around 7 million years ago, researchers have claimed. Studies undertaken on the teeth of a chimpanzee-sized primate that once lived in Mediterranean Europe suggest that the primate, known as Graecopithecus, may have been a hominin, not an ape as many researchers had previously assumed.

European apes were thought to have died out 10 million years ago, leaving apes confined to Africa where they split into chimpanzees, gorillas and homo sapiens. However the 7 million year old Gracopithecus remains discovered in Bulgaria (with another set discovered in Athens) seem to indicate that European apes were able to survive far longer than scientists previously realised. Researchers from the University of Tübingen used a micro-CT scanner to peer into the jawbone of the Greek sample, and found that the roots of one of the premolars are “fused” together in an unusual way that is only known to occur in hominins, being extremely rare in modern chimps.

Geological dating techniques suggest it was alive between 7.18 and 7.25 million years ago, which means Graecopithecus slightly predates Sahelanthropus the oldest potential hominin found in Africa which is between 6 to 7 million years old. As a result the researchers are claiming that our last common ancestor with chimps may have been an eastern European.

These claims come at the same time as the discovery of Homo Sapiens remains in a cave in Morocco which seem to indicate that our species that is a full 100,000 years older than previously assumed.  

About author