Graecopithecus’ teeth suggest it was part of the human evolutionary family, researchers argue
W. Gerber/Univ. of Tübingen
Europe, not Africa, might have spawned the first members of the human evolutionary family around 7 million years ago, researchers say.
Tooth characteristics of a chimpanzee-sized primate that once lived in southeastern Europe suggest that the primate, known as Graecopithecus, may have been a hominid, not an ape as many researchers assume. One tooth in particular, the second lower premolar, is telling. It features two partially fused roots, a trait characteristic of early hominids but not ancient apes, a team led by geoscientist Jochen Fuss of the University of Tübingen in Germany reports May 22 in PLOS ONE.
Scientists suspect the first hominids appeared sometime between 8 million and 6 million years ago. New age estimates for previously discovered fossils position Graecopithecus as potentially the earliest known hominid,