Maria Gallucci

Ancient tooth fossils found in Europe may represent a new chapter in the human origin story.

The fossils, which date back more than 7 million years, belonged to an ape-like creature named Graecopithecus freybergi, researchers hypothesized in two new papers. A lower jaw bone and upper premolar were found in Greece and Bulgaria, respectively.

The findings suggest that humans split off from great apes several hundred thousand years earlier than previously thought, according to research published this week in the journal PLOS ONE.

If true, that would mean the first pre-humans developed in Mediterranean Europe — not in sub-Saharan Africa, which is widely considered the birthplace of early humans.

Still, the studies alone aren’t enough to rewrite the story of humankind’s beginnings.

More: 7-million-year-old teeth add new layer to human origin story