1.8m-year-old tooth of early human found on dig in Georgia | Archaeology


Archaeologists in Georgia have found a 1.8m-year-old tooth belonging to an early species of human that they say cements the region as the home of one of the earliest prehistoric human settlements in Europe, and possibly anywhere outside Africa.

The tooth was discovered near the village of Orozmani, which lies about 60 miles south-west of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, and is near Dmanisi, where human skulls dated to 1.8m years old were found in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The Dmanisi finds were the oldest such discovery anywhere in the world outside Africa, and changed scientists’ understanding of early human evolution and migration patterns.

The latest discovery at a site about 12 miles away away provides yet more evidence that the mountainous south Caucasus area was probably one of the first places early humans settled after migrating out of Africa, experts said.

“Orozmani, together with Dmanisi, represents the centre of the oldest distribution of old humans – or early Homo – in the world outside Africa,” the National Research Centre of Archaeology and Prehistory of Georgia said.

The dig site near Orozmani
The dig site near Orozmani. Photograph: David Chkhikvishvili/Reuters

Giorgi Bidzinashvili, the scientific leader of the dig team, said he thought the tooth belonged to a “cousin” of Zezva and Mzia, the names given to the people whose near-complete 1.8m-year-old fossilised skulls were found at Dmanisi.

Jack Peart, a British archaeology student who found the tooth at Orozmani, said: “The implications not just for this site but for Georgia and the story of humans leaving Africa 1.8m years ago are enormous. It solidifies Georgia as a really important place for paleoanthropology and the human story in general.”

The oldest Homo fossils anywhere in the world date to about 2.8m years ago – a partial jaw discovered in modern-day Ethiopia.

Scientists believe early humans, a hunter-gatherer species named Homo erectus, probably started migrating out of Africa about 2m years ago. Ancient tools dated to about 2.1m years have been discovered in modern-day China, but the Georgian sites are home to the oldest remains of early humans yet recovered outside Africa.



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