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Scientists: Europe, Not Africa, Cradle of Humankind Scientists: Europe, Not Africa, Cradle of Humankind

Scientists: Europe, Not Africa, Cradle of Humankind

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It's long been accepted that humans split from apes about 7 million years ago in central Africa, staying there for another 5 million years before migrating elsewhere.

Now, though, scientists have evidence that bucks that belief: A pair of fossils of an ape-like being that sported human-like teeth have been discovered in Greece and Bulgaria. And the two finds date back to 7.2 million years ago.

The discovery of the new creature, known as Graecopithecus freybergi ("El Graeco" for short), demonstrates that the ancestors of humans were beginning to develop a good 200 millennia before the existence of the earliest known African hominid.

That would place the last ancestor-in-common of humans and chimpanzees in the Mediterranean region.

"To some extent this is a newly discovered missing link," Professor Nikolai Spassov of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences told the Telegraph newspaper of London. "But missing links will always exist, because evolution is infinite chain of subsequent forms. Probably El Graeco's face will resemble a great ape, with shorter canines."

A team of scientists examined the two specimens attributed to El Graeco -- an upper premolar tooth found in Bulgaria, and a lower jaw discovered in Greece. Computer tomography was used to look at the internal makeup of the fossils. One key discovery: The roots of the tooth were fused.

Lead researcher Professor Madelaine Böhme of the University of Tübingen told the Telegraph, "While great apes typically have two or three separate and diverging roots, the roots of Graecopithecus converge and are partially fused -- a feature that is characteristic of modern humans, early humans and several pre-humans."

The lower jawbone was found to have more dental root characteristics of the hominid species.

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Read 908 times Last modified on Thursday, 25 May 2017 01:36
Jim Lillie

Jim began writing for newspapers and designing for publishing companies at a time when both industries were just beginning to make the switch from manual to digital platforms. Jim lives in Boulder, Colorado with his teenage son.

Website: www.jimlillie.com
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