Researchers were left scratching their heads about the mystery and origins of the 9.7 million-year-old ape teeth that were recently discovered in Germany. They say the discovery could rewrite man's current understanding of human history.
The Discovery Of The 9.7 Million-Year-Old Teeth
In September 2016, archaeologists uncovered two teeth in a prehistoric site located in the town of Eppelsheim in southwestern Germany.
The two teeth, an upper right first molar and an upper left canine, were believed to have come from a yet-to-be-identified ancient great ape. They were found perfectly preserved, and evidence suggested that they were about 9.7 million years old.
The team who had excavated the site said they announced their discovery about a year later because they were so baffled about the finding that they wanted to make sure the teeth were as significant as they previously thought. Their finding was published on ResearchGate on Friday, Oct. 20.
The Discovery May Rewrite Human History
The upper left canine tooth that was discovered in Germany closely resembles the tooth of extinct human relatives, Australopithecus afarensis, while the upper right first molar tooth looks similar to the other fossil finds in the area.
The current knowledge of man's ancestry is that hominins, our extinct human ancestors, lived between 3.9 and 2.9 million years ago and left the African continent about 120,000 years ago. However, the recent discovery of the remains is remarkably older.
Herbert Lutz, the head of the excavation team, told Deutsche Welle that the "extremely rare" discovery has the potential to alter our current knowledge and understanding of the origins of humans and how they migrated in ancient times.
"The groundbreaking knowledge is that we have comparable finds only in East Africa. And these are much, much younger," said Lutz. "These species are well known as Ardi and Lucy, and their canines look very similar to the one here from Eppelsheim, but they are only two, three, four or five million years old, and Eppelsheim is almost 10. So the question is: What has happened?"
Many experts said they are not convinced about the hominoid origins of the teeth. They say that the owner of the teeth could have been from a species of extinct primate that inhabited Europe and Asia between 7 and 17 million years ago.
As of now, the owner of the teeth still remains a mystery. Perhaps in the near future, researchers will discover new evidence that will point them to the teeth's origins.