Scientists find new fossils that suggest Europe was the original birthplace of humankind, not Africa.
According to multiple reports on human evolution, the human lineage date back to some 7 million years ago in Africa.
And experts believe Hominins—early humans—stayed put in Africa until about 2 million years ago. Then they migrated first to Asia and then to Europe.
A Team of Scientists, However, are Seeking to Revise that History
In two complementary studies, these scientists argue that the earliest human ancestor emerged in Europe.
By observing 7.2 million-year-old fossils uncovered in Greece and Bulgaria, they suggested humankind originated in the Eastern Mediterranean instead of Africa.
That's more than 200,000 years earlier than most scientists previously thought.
The fossils, which included a lower jaw and an upper premolar, came from an ape-like creature that had human teeth.
Researchers named the species Graecopithecus freybergi. They claim that it was the last common ancestor of humans and roamed the Mediterranean region between 7.18 and 7.25 million years ago.
Professor Nikolai Spassov, one of the study's authors, said:
"To some extent, this is a newly discovered missing link."
"But missing links will always exist because evolution is an infinite chain of subsequent forms."
Spassov also explained that the creature would probably look much similar to a great ape, but with shorter, more human-like teeth.
"The split of chimps and humans was a single event… Our data support the view that this split was happening in the eastern Mediterranean – not in Africa."
"If accepted, this theory will indeed alter the very beginning of human history."
Meanwhile, Madelaine Böhme, who co-authored the study, said:
"The roots of the teeth embedded in the mandible were perfectly preserved… And they gave us a lot of new information that we never had about this specimen."
"The canine root is quite short and slender and indicates that the canine was small. That's really important because in apes—and male apes in particular—the canine is quite large."
"This root shows that the canine was already reduced, which is a characteristic that you only see in humans and our fossil relatives."
But How Did the Early Humans Get from the Mediterranean to Africa?
Researchers suggest that the Mediterranean Sea would often dry out completely during this era.
This, afterward, would create a land bridge for hominids to pass between the two continents.
But despite these claims, not everyone is convinced the birthplace of humankind is Europe.
Dr. Peter Andrews, a former anthropologist at the Natural History Museum in London, said:
"It is possible that the human lineage originated in Europe, but very substantial fossil evidence places the origin in Africa, including several partial skeletons and skulls."
"I would be hesitant about using a single character from an isolated fossil to set against the evidence from Africa."
If Graecopithecus is, in fact, a hominin, it would slightly predate the earliest known human ancestor found in Africa.