560,000-Year-Old Tooth Discovered by a Teen Archaeologist in a French Cave
560,000-Year-Old Tooth (Photo Credits: @KathyReichs/ Twitter)

Fossils are the strong evidence behind our picture of life on the planet. Our Earth has a billion years of history. Over the years, the anthropology experts have come across the oldest remains of different species that fleshes out the details on the evolutionary tree. Once again, in an exciting discovery by Spanish and French archaeologists, a tooth was found which dates back to at least 560,000 years. It was sighted by a 16-year-old French teen archaeologist, to what researchers hailed as a “major discovery.” This fossil was found in a French cave namely Arago Cave on the Pyrenees Mountains that border Spain.

Arago Cave near the village of Tautavel has a prehistoric value in itself already. At the same spot in 1971, a Tautavel man skull was discovered who lived in an estimated 450, o00 years ago. The recent one was found on July 26, by volunteer Camille and after it was examined at the on-site laboratory, it was verified that the tooth indeed belongs to a sub-species of human or as they call it Homo heidelbergensis. Such species resemble the modern-day humans as well as the ancestors of our Homo erectus. However, examination of the tooth is underway, experts studied the soil and based on the estimation, the tooth is believed to be at least 560,000 years old.

“A large adult tooth—we can't say if it was from a male or female—was found during excavations of soil we know to be between 550,000 and 580,000 years old, because we used different dating methods,” paleoanthropologist Amelie Viallet was quoted in a phys.org report. Explaining to why it is cited as a major discovery, she said, “This is a major discovery because we have very few human fossils from this period in Europe.”

Hundreds of young trainee archaeologists visit the cave every year to study human ancestors during the Paleolithic era, the time when they first began to use tools. The researchers said that the owner of the tooth could live during a cold, dry and windy period and hunted horses, reindeers, bison and rhinoceros. Prior to this, in 2013, the discovery of a fossil tooth in south-eastern Spain that dated back to about 1.4 million years ago school the timeline of the colonisation of Europe by modern humans. With so many stones left to turn, the fossil record and the list of record-holders like these will continue to evolve.