Humankind may have originated in Europe not Africa
Analysis of 7.2 million year old remains in Europe and the areas surrounding the sites has led an international research team to suggest two key things: the origin of humankind may be in Europe and not in Africa, and environmental changes may have been the driving force for human-chimp divergence, according to two studies published together today.
The two studies, both published in PLOS ONE:
- The dental study examines specimens of a lower jaw from Greece and an upper premolar from Bulgaria from a relatively new species called Graecopithecus freybergi and concluded they most likely belong to pre-humans called hominin. Both fossils were dated at about 7.2 million years before present — several hundred thousand years older than the (previously oldest) potential pre-human found in Chad.
- The environmental study looks at the area surrounding the fossil finds and demonstrates evidence of severe environmental changes and concluded that a savannah biome formed in those areas of Europe around the same time as the Graecopithecus lived.
What it means: Where the last chimp-human common ancestor lived is a highly debated issue in palaeoanthropology. "This dating allows us to move the human-chimpanzee split into the Mediterranean area," David Begun, co-author of the study and a University of Toronto paleoanthropologist, said.