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A 16-year-old French volunteer has been the author of the discovery of the 560,000-year-old adult tooth in an excavation in southwestern France.
«A tooth of an adult, we do not know if a woman or a man, was found during excavations. We know it must be around 550,000 or 580,000 years old because we have used different methods to date it«, Explained the paleoanthropologist Amelie Viallet. «It is a great find because many fossil remains of humans from that time have not been located in Europe«, Added Viallet.
The tooth was found in the Arago cave, near the city of Tautavel, in one of the most important prehistoric sites in the world that has been excavated for almost 50 years and is the place where more than 140 fossils of the Man of Tautavel were discovered, a hominid that is estimated to have lived ago 450,000 million years.
Camille, 16, was working alongside a young archaeologist when she found the tooth. They were among the hundreds of young archaeologists who work each year in the cave to study Lower Palaeolithic human remains and learn to use some tools to practice archeology.
The one who owned the tooth, a very worn lower incisor, lived during a cold, dry and windy time and, according to the archaeological information found in the cave, he hunted horses, reindeer, bison, and rhinos.
Until recently,the jaw found in Heidelberg, discovered in Germany in 1907 and 600,000 years old, was the oldest human fossil found in Western Europe.
The tests and findings have left many questions and have reignited debates about the presence of modern humans in Europe after their departure from Africa and the conquest of the rest of the world.
In 2013 a fossil of a tooth was discovered in southeastern Spain that was dated to about 1.4 million years, displacing the date of colonization of Europe by modern humans.
Dr. Matthew Skinner, a paleo-anthropologist at the University of Kent in Great Britain, states that although the find of this fossil is important because there are few of this period, but that a simple tooth cannot be classified as a great discovery and explains that the tooth probably belongs to Homo heidelbergensis, of which little is known.
«We need to find skeletons. We have a lot of heidelbergensis skulls but we do not have remains of arms and legs or ribs and pelvis, some pieces have been found, but not really many nor significant«, Commented the professor.