Remains of ancient human species found in kitchen floor tile | Science | News

A dentist visiting their parents at their newly-renovated home made an incredible discovery.

The profession of Reddit user Kidipadeli75 surely helped them notice a detail in a freshly laid down tile – a jawbone.

The Redditor wrote on the subreddit dedicated to fossils part of the social media platform: “My parents just got their home renovated with travertine stone. This looks like a section of [a] mandible. Could it be a hominid? Is it usual?”

The post included a stunning photo showing the unmistakable outline of a few teeth and the inside of a mandible.

The picture quickly attracted the attention of fellow social media users as well as experts in the field, with many agreeing the tile likely belonged to an extinct hominin – a primate comprising, among others, species regarded as human such as the Homo erectus or Homo neanderthalensis.

If the fossil embedded in the tile belonged to one of these archaic humans, it could be several thousand years old – more precisely dating back between 24,000 to 1.9 million years.

As noted in the original post, the tile, which the Europe-based Reddit user said had been placed by unaware renovators in the corridor of the house leading to the terrace, is in travertine.

This calcium-rich limestone is commonly used for tiles, as it is cheaper than marble but its veins of calcite crystal give it a beautiful and delicate appearance.

It is formed around mineral-rich rivers, lakes and springs – where many humans and animals over the course of history have gone to live and die.

The jawbone visible in the tile leads to believe that its owner died near a source of water and their remains ended up trapped in the sedimentary rock.

The quarry where this tile came from is believed to be located in Turkey, Kidipadeli75 said – an area that has been the site of multiple hominin finds, according to Angelique Corthals, associate professor of forensic anthropology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Professor Corthals told “There’s been fossils of Homo erectus and Homo heidelbergensis excavated from this type of stone before. It could be Neanderthals, it could be anything. Any of the hominins.”

While the angle in which the jawbone was cut will likely make it harder for experts to identify with certainty the hominin, Professor Corthals said the thickness of the alveolar process – the ridge of bone that holds the tooth sockets – may be a possible clue – which leads her to think the fossil was part of the remains of a Homo erectus.

The overall width of the mandible too, she added, looks more like Homo erectus than Homo sapiens.

Homo erectus, the longest-lived of all human species, populated eastern Africa and western Asia between 1.9 million and 108,000 years ago.

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