Over the last few days I’ve been getting regular emails alerting me to trending stories about an astounding archaeological discovery.
According to reports, German scientists had found teeth that belonged to a human-like species dating back almost 10 million years – much older than any similar remains found elsewhere in the world. Today’s example of such a story from a dubious viral site is below:
As a reporter who covers Germany and regularly writes about archaeology, I obviously had to check this out.
Last week, when the first reports surfaced in German media (and were quickly picked up by international outlets thanks to an English-language piece by Deutsche Welle – http://bit.ly/2xbjXcI ) I reached out to a couple of paleontologists to find out what they made of this.
Their answer: it’s nonsense.
As an expert from Germany’s Max Planck Institute _ one of the world’s top academic institutions _ explained, these teeth likely belong to a great ape (homin-ID). They were fairly common across Europe even 12 million years ago and finding evidence of their presence in southwest Germany isn’t unexpected.
There’s no evidence to back up the Mainz Museum of Natural History’s claim that they’ve discovered sensational new homin-IN fossils, the expert said. One of the big giveaways is the fact that there’s been no peer-reviewed paper on this find so far, he added.
I expect to see a few more trending stories about this ‘discovery’ in the next few weeks. But I’m not expecting to write any more than this post about it.