Until recently, the earliest known human ancestors were believed to have originated in Africa 7 million years ago. But a few months ago, paleoanthropologists found fossils in Europe that were even older. Paleoanthropologists work on putting together the puzzle pieces of human development, and they discovered 7 200 000 year old fossils in Greece and Bulgaria.
This means that, contrary to scientific consensus, our earliest ancestors might have evolved in Europe at least 200 000 years before they came to Africa. This species is called Greacopithecus freybergi, and they had ape-like bodies, but human teeth. This means that they are a missing link, which is big news for the evolutionary record.
However, this is basically a never-ending process because it’s unlikely that every link will be found. It’s good to know more about our history, but there will probably always be other missing links. Evolution is messy, so paleoanthropologists need to scour our planet for every stage of development. Just the transitions from apes to humans took millions of years. Climate change, along with ample other factors, spread our ancestors across different continents. I’m pretty sure that most amateurs like me can only begin to contemplate the phenomenal complexity of this entire field.
Apparently, the Greacopithecus freybergi migrated to Africa about 7 million years ago because the changing climate in Bulgaria and Greece forced them to look for new food sources. Since evolution is so complicated, it’s possible that our earliest humanoid ancestors were in a different part of the world long before then. But as far as I know, no earlier fossils of human development have been found. Perhaps there are one or more human ancestors that are much older than the Graecopithecus. For now, as far as scientists can tell us, these hominins evolved in Africa for approximately 5 million years after remaining in Europe for at least 200 000. So Africa is where an enormous amount of human evolution occurred.(Hominins are a classification of creatures that includes humans and some extinct species, but not apes. Greacopithecus freybergi were hominins even though they had ape-like bodies because they had human teeth and other humanoid features.)
These conclusions behind the Greacopithecus are preliminary because only two fossils have been found so far. Some anthropologists argue that these ape/human hybrids could have been an isolated sub-species, and that human ancestors still originated in Africa. That’s because there’s a hell of a lot more evidence there, so there’s not necessarily justification for shifting human origins yet. Since evolution and the fossil record are so messy, maybe our ancestors originated in Africa. A small number could have migrated to Greece and Bulgaria, and came back to the tribe hundreds of thousands of years later. There are abundant possibilities. I think the most important aspect of this news to remember is that a missing link was found. Perhaps it will alter our understanding of human development if more fossils are discovered. For now, it’s just awesome and fascinating that we’re one step closer to painting a broad, detailed picture of human evolution. The puzzle of the fossil record may never be completed. Even if all the pieces are found, scientists might never determine how they all fit together. But each piece can bring us one step closer to solving one of the most fascinating mysteries of all time.