Tooth found by five-year-old could rewrite history
A tooth found by the five-year-old grandson of local amateur palaeontologist Petar Popdimitrov in Bulgaria in 2002, has raised interesting new questions regarding the evolutionary origins of humankind.
Currently the ‘Out of Africa’ theory of evolution, is the most widely accepted amongst the scientific community. This asserts that all modern humans stem from a single group of Homo sapiens who emigrated from Africa 2,000 generations ago, and spread throughout Eurasia over thousands of years. These settlers replaced other early humans (such as Neanderthals), rather than interbreeding with them.
Now, a team led by Professor Nikolai Spassov and Madelaine Boehme from Tuebingen University in Germany has put forward the idea that the tooth found by the boy matches a jawbone found near Athens in 1944. This jawbone was discovered by German soldiers digging a bunker during World War II.
Professor Spassov asserts that both items are from a creature called Graecopithecus, and that it was a hominin — the collective term for humans and our direct line of non-ape ancestors. Graecopithecus, the researchers propose, migrated to Africa only later. “Now we think that it was the Graecopithecus found in Greece and Bulgaria because our two finds are several hundred thousand years older,” he said. This discovery could be nothing short of momentous, potentially proving that humans diverged from apes not in Africa but in the eastern Mediterranean. This tooth found predates bones found in Africa by at least two hundred thousand years.
This means that the ‘Out of Africa’ theory may need to be renamed to ‘Into Africa.’
Describing the tooth found Mr Popdimitrov said, “The whole of it was of a blue-greyish colour. It looked very worn out, especially the chewing surface. We thought that it was an animal one…. but my son-in-law, who is a dentist, said in the evening that it might be human”.
Professor Spassov’s theory has been widely criticised in scientific circles for lack of proof, prompting him to search for more evidence. “That’s why we are here — to look for whatever part of a skeleton, preferably pelvis, hip, jaw or skull that will enable us to cement our theory and tell much more about our potential first ancestors.” Chronic lack of funding for scientific research and field trips in Bulgaria (the European Union’s poorest country), has limited his team’s excavations to just eight days this summer. However the team has unearthed hundreds of fossils that will be carefully cleaned and examined to see if they are parts of Graecopithecus. Excavations are also expected to start in neighbouring Greece and Macedonia in September this year.
Griffith Street Family Dental’s dentist, Dr Rakesh Bhula, said he was intrigued at the findings. “I remember studying about the ‘Out of Africa’ theory in high school biology classes. Now to find that it may have been incorrect is very surprising. I eagerly look forward to what these new bones found will reveal.”
Here at Griffith Street Family Dental, Dr Rakesh Bhula along with dentist Dr Selvan Dass and oral health therapist Cheryll Dunn are experienced at looking after ‘old teeth’. We are able to accommodate our senior patients needs with walker and wheelchair access throughout the entire surgery and waiting rooms. Dr Rakesh Bhula adds, “Elderly patients are frequently prone to medication induced dry mouth and gum recession. At Griffith Street Family Dental we have several strategies to manage this, ranging from dry mouth toothpastes and mouthrinses to aid mouth comfort, to fluoride treatments to strengthen the teeth, to root surface covering fillings to protect vulnerable teeth in the mouth. If you or a loved one are concerned about your teeth feel free to contact us to find out how we can help”.
Call the friendly team at Griffith Street Family Dental (07) 5599 4643 to arrange an appointment today.