We don’t know how did you spend your summer break, but these two French teenagers the tooth of a human who likely lived in what’s now southwestern France about 560,000 years ago.
Valentin Loescher, 20, was volunteering alongside Camille Jacquey, 16, on his first summer archaeological dig at the Arago cave near Tautavel, when he discovered the tooth. Guardian reports
Camille and her partner (Photo Musée de Tautavel)
“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 said.
“This is a major discovery because we have very few human fossils from this period in Europe.”
The tooth could be the oldest human remains found in France. It predates by 100,000 years the famous Tautavel man, a 20-year-old prehistoric hunter and ancestor of Neanderthal man, who was discovered at the site in 1971 and whose remains dated back about 450,000 years.
Loescher, a history of art student from Metz, told France Television that while Jacquey was on a break he had been carefully brushing a mound of soil in his excavation area that featured lots of remains of large animals, when he found the small remains of a tooth.
He and Jacquey weren’t sure of the tooth’s significance, so took it to Vialet. Its profile was examined by computer and it was sent to a laboratory. “At that moment, there was a lot of excitement,” Loescher said.
“I’m not sure if it has sunk in yet. I’m happy, but there’s nothing to be proud of. I was just in the right section at the right time.”