Is it time to rethink human evolution and human origins? A recent discovery is prompting experts to reevaluate human origins, suggesting our ancestors might have evolved in Europe before migrating to Africa.
A recently discovered 8.7-million-year-old ape fossil from Türkiye is prompting experts to reevaluate human origins, suggesting our ancestors might have evolved in Europe before migrating to Africa.
Located near Çankırı at the Çorakyerler fossil site with the backing of Türkiye’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the newly unearthed ape challenges the belief that hominines’ early evolution took place exclusively in Africa. Instead, this fossil, named Anadoluvius turkae, introduces a compelling case that the evolutionary journey began in parts of Europe, primarily the Mediterranean.
Shifting the Evolutionary Paradigm
This research, led by Professor David Begun from the University of Toronto and Professor Ayla Sevim Erol of Ankara University and published in Communications Biology, contends that hominines not only took root in Europe but thrived there for over five million years. The Mediterranean and Anatolian regions played a crucial role before these hominines moved to Africa due to environmental shifts.
The pivotal evidence comes from an exceptionally preserved partial cranium, found in 2015. “Its completeness offered broader, deeper insights into evolutionary relationships,” explained Begun. The facial region is nearly intact, and the newfound forehead section provides vital information previously absent in older fossils.
Understanding Anadoluvius’s Lifestyle
Roughly the size of a large male chimpanzee or a female gorilla, Anadoluvius likely favored dry forests and spent considerable time terrestrial. Its robust jaws and dense enamel suggest a diet of hard, ground-based food, mirroring the early human environment in Africa.
Various animals, now associated with African grasslands, cohabited with Anadoluvius. This fauna, including giraffes, wart hogs, and lion-like carnivores, seems to have migrated to Africa around eight million years ago. “This movement from the eastern Mediterranean to Africa redefines our understanding of early fauna,” said Sevim Erol.
Positioning Anadoluvius in Evolution
Anadoluvius joins the ranks of fossil apes from Greece and Bulgaria, coming closest in anatomical and ecological terms to early humans. Coupled with data from Ege University, Pamukkale University, and the Naturalis Biodiversity Center, the consensus leans toward a European origin for early hominines, before their eventual migration to Africa.
The research disputes the popular theory that hominines exclusively evolved in Africa. “We require more fossils from the 8 to 7-million-year window to firmly link European and African hominines,” Begun added, emphasizing the need for further discoveries.
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