An early human species’ tooth from about 1.8 million years ago has been discovered by archeologists in Georgia.
The discovery, according to researchers, solidifies the area’s status as the site of one of the first ancient and archaic human communities in Europe—if not the world—outside of Africa.
The tooth was found near the town of Orozmani, which is about one hundred kilometers (sixty miles) southwest of Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, according to the National Research Center of Archaeology and Prehistory of Georgia’s release on Thursday.
On the grounds of the Orozmani archeological monument, stone tools and animal remains have previously been discovered, but this is the first time that Homo erectus remains have been discovered there.
Orozmani lies near the village of Dmanisi, where in the late 1990s and early 2000s, human skulls from about 1.8 million years ago were discovered. The Dmanisi findings altered experts’ perceptions of early human evolution and migration patterns because they were the oldest discovery of its sort outside of Africa.
The recent find, discovered about twenty kilometers outside of Dmanisi, adds to the growing body of data, suggesting that early people originally migrated from Africa to the rugged South Caucasus.
Tooth Represents Center of Oldest Distribution of Old Human
In reporting the tooth finding, Georgia’s National Research Centre for Archaeology and Prehistory made a statement, saying that “Orozmani, together with Dmanisi, represents the center of the oldest distribution of old humans or early Homo in the world outside [of] Africa.”
The teeth, according to the scientific leader of the excavation team, Giorgi Bidzinashvili, belonged to a “cousin” of Zezva and Mzia, the names given to two nearly 1.8 million year old fossilized skulls discovered in Dmanisi.
Jack Peart, a British archeological student who discovered the tooth at Orozmani said, “The implications, not just for this site, but for Georgia and the story of humans leaving Africa 1.8 million years ago, are enormous.”
“It solidifies Georgia as a really important place for paleoanthropology and the human story in general,” he added.
Homo erectus, a hunter-gatherer species that predates modern humans, is thought to have begun migrating out of Africa around two million years ago. However, the Georgia sites contain the earliest human remains ever discovered outside of Africa although ancient artifacts from about 2.1 million years ago have also been discovered in modern day China.
Though estimates differ, modern anatomical humans, or Homo sapiens, are believed to have first appeared in Africa some three hundred thousand years ago.
Giorgi and his colleagues began digging at Orozmani in 2019, but this was halted halfway through due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The team resumed digging last year, and has, since then, found remnants of extinct species such as saber-toothed cats and Etruscan wolves in addition to prehistoric stone tools.