A recent study challenges the belief that the first human started evolving in Africa. Researchers discovered that the evolutionary split between apes and pre-humans took place in the Balkans, in the northern area of Greece. Two fossils found in the region might disprove the previous theory.
The previous theory on human evolution stated that the first human ancestors appeared in Africa, between five and seven million years ago. However, the team of scientists has a different opinion. They claim that the first humans appeared in Europe several hundreds of years earlier.
Balkan fossils share features with modern humans
The two fossils analyzed belonged to Graecopithecus freybergi. A lower jaw belonging to this specimen was found in Northern Greece, while a molar was discovered in Bulgaria. By using X-ray and analyzing them through a computer tomography, they identified features which still belong to present-day humans.
They saw how the molar roots are convergent and widely fused. Ape molars have several roots which diverge, but what they saw in these fossils is similar to what we can see in humans today. Also, the jaw, called “El Graeco”, has some other dental features which might indicate that it is a link in the human lineage.
The discovery changes the previous beliefs on human evolution
Moreover, researchers discovered that Graecopithecus freybergi is, in fact, older than the previously believed human ancestor from Africa. Sahelanthropus, discovered in Chad, is between six and seven million years old. Both fossils of Graecopithecus found in Europe are from nearly the same period, so they date back to 7.1-7.2 million years ago.
Besides from rethinking the human evolution, this discovery brings some other issues to light. The accurate dating of the fossils allowed scientists to say that the split between humans and chimpanzees also has its origin in the Balkan area.
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