And you thought your partner had bad breath! Imagine if their teeth were almost 10 million years old! Woof! Get out the Scope mouthwash!
Scientists discovered “great ape teeth found in Eppelsheim last year that could topple the understanding of our earliest history.” According to USA Today:
A little over a year ago, a team of archaeologists in southwestern Germany uncovered two teeth where the Rhine River used to flow, in the town of Eppelsheim near Mainz.
The news of the discovery was announced this week, because the team that performed the excavation wanted to make sure that what they had found was as significant as they initially thought.
The leader of this team at Mainz’s Natural History Museum, Herbert Lutz, told reporters, “It’s completely new to science, and it is a big surprise because nobody had expected such a tremendous, extremely rare discovery. To find a completely new species? Nobody expected that.”
Lutz commented, “…it’s a question that’s been discussed for decades. New discoveries lead to new insights that may contribute to our knowledge about our own history, and this finding has that potential because the great ape species has a relationship to Homo sapiens.”
The teeth of this Rhineland monkey are on display “in a great exhibition in the Landesmuseum in Mainz.”
Mainz and his team had been digging in the Rhineland for almost 17 years.
And it looks like after this discovery they will continue to do so.
One of the big questions is how this monkey got here. As Mainz explains:
“The groundbreaking knowledge is that we have comparable finds only in East Africa. And these are much, much younger. 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?…we have similar species in Africa, but we don’t know where this great ape came from. We do not have comparable finds from southern Europe, even from in between maybe Greece or Turkey. From there, we know of great ape fossils, but they all look much different. And so it’s a great mystery.
Furthermore, according to news from the University of Berkeley:
The measurement data prove that the feature is inherited in a similar way in all primates – humans included – and varies across different species and genera in a way that mirrors the evolutionary relationships worked out earlier by analyzing bones and comparing genes.
“This shows that we can use the power of evolutionary history to unlock what is going on genetically in animals on whom you can’t experiment, such as humans,“ said study leader Leslea Hlusko, a UC Berkeley associate professor of integrative biology.
Will science be rewritten? Only time will tell.
Do you see this new discovery as significant? Why or why not?