Africa may not be the birthplace of the human race, as previously thought.

Scientists have analyzed a fossilized tooth, found in the Eastern Mediterranean, and are now questioning the origin of human lineage once again.

Not since Charles Darwin have the claims of experts about this fascinating subject been so intensely challenged.

This exciting discovery is forcing scientists to revise their previous theories about our first human ancestors.

Discovery Of Dental Remains Could Change Everything

The discovery has thrown the cat amongst the pigeons in the world of paleontology.

It questions the conventional account of where we originated and how it happened.

The search for the missing link is on-going and this discovery marks the beginning of yet another investigation.

Previously, it was believed that hominids split off from primates in Africa several million years ago.

The leading theory was that they remained there for at least another five million years before migrating north.

Where this happened has now been called into question, and this new piece of evidence suggests that human life began in an entirely different place.

Eastern Mediterranean Vs. Central Africa

The discovery of some 7.2 million- year old fossils has led scientists to the question of whether the human race began in the Eastern Mediterranean, rather than in Africa.

Scientists have started to think that the areas around Greece and Bulgaria are the actual birthplace of humankind.

The fossilized remains of a lower jaw and an upper premolar were found in Greece and a later a single tooth was discovered in nearby Bulgaria.

These dental root structures are one of the decisive features of hominids, and they have been dated at around 200,000 years before the first African fossils.

The fossils were discovered during the construction of a military bunker in Athens during the Second World War.

When the fossilized lower jaw was recovered it was analyzed with great curiosity by scientists of the time.

Let’s Take A Closer Look

Recently, using computer tomography, researchers have been able to take a closer look at the fossils.

They examined the roots of the teeth, and the fact that they were set in the jaw triggered considerable interest.

Closer examination revealed two features that imply this ape was more closely related to us than to chimpanzees — partly fused roots in the molar and truncated roots in the canine.

Potential hominin affinities of Graecopithecus from the Late Miocene of Europe. 

Did Early Man Exit From Europe Or Africa?

Based on this discovery, scientists named this species Graecopithecus freybergi and consider it to be the final common link between humans and chimpanzees.

It proves that there was a split between the two at some point in evolution.

This theory would suggest that the split was a distinct occurrence on the human timeline.

It would also indicate that it occurred in the Eastern Mediterranean, not in Africa. 

If this theory proves to be true, then it will change everything we have previously believed about our lineage.

This then begs the question of how these primitive hominids reached Africa.

One suggestion is that they were able to cross the Mediterranean during dry periods in that era and they could reach North Africa quite easily.

At that time the Mediterranean area was going through significant climate changes.

The diminishing woodlands and dry, dusty conditions, may have been a prime factor in the evolutionary process.

Some researchers believe that intense environmental changes drove the hominins back to Africa, where they continued to evolve. 

These fossilized dental remains provide paleoanthropologists with a considerable amount of new data.

For example, it proves that the diet of these prehistoric beings was changing to a more solid diet.

For this reason, their teeth were needing to adapt to their changing dietary needs.

This would tie in with the data on climatic change in Europe.

A Plethora Of Reasonable Doubt

Of course, some skeptics do not believe that these deductions can be validated on the evidence of partial dental remains.

Dr. Peter Andrews, a former anthropologist from the Natural History Museum in London, is one prominent scientist who finds this evidence tenuous.

He has contrasted this with the considerable number of fossil remains that have been found in Africa and he remains skeptical.

Another researcher from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Yohannes Haile-Selassie, Ph.D., is also dubious about this theory.

He doubts that the fossils are part of human ancestry at all.

He maintains that after breaking away from the chimpanzees, the teeth of hominids may have adapted to a comparable environment, which is known as convergent evolution.

According to this internationally-acclaimed paleoanthropologist, the characteristics of these fossils cannot be used as conclusive evidence, simply because they are human-like.

Dr. Haile-Selassie has extensive experience in analyzing the many hominin fossils that he has personally discovered over time.

He established that teeth structures undoubtedly differ within the same species and cannot form the basis of a theory.

For example, he discovered the fossilized remains of Ardipithecus kadabba that lived 5.8 million years ago in Ethiopia and he has verification that they were upright walkers.

This is an undisputed human characteristic and considered to be more reliable than dental fossil evidence.

He suggests that the Graecopithecus freybergi fossils may have belonged to prehistoric great apes that roamed through Europe and Asia 7 million years ago.

This would explain the discovery of the human-like teeth, but does not substantiate the claims that they were the fossilized remains of prehistoric man.

There is no doubt that this discovery, and the debate about the origins of man, will continue for the foreseeable future.

Europe or Africa – that is the question!

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