Prof debunks claim that first known human ancestor not from Southern Africa

A front page report in British newspaper The Times on Wednesday claims that a new discovery suggests the first known human ancestor may actually not have lived in Southern Africa but in Bulgaria and Greece.

The species is being called Greaco-pithecus Frey-bergi.

The only part of this species that has been found is part of a jawbone. Stephen Grootes spoke to Professor Lee Burger to understand whether this is enough to extrapolate these findings.

I wouldn't believe Guardian headlines, or Times headlines so easily.

Professor Lee Burger, Research Professor in Human Evolution at Wits University

Let me put in context this Greaco-pithecus discovery. It was discovered actually in World War 2 and it has been known for a very long time. It is in very bad condition, it is of an ape, something that we would call a Miocene ape, something that lives between five and twenty million years ago.,... based on a single character that the researchers saw that is the shape of a root, they declared that this is a hominin ancestor.

Professor Lee Burger, Research Professor in Human Evolution at Wits University

Single character descriptions of hominage are a bad idea. You need a lot more, you, in fact, should probably have lots of whole bodies to make extraordinary claims like this... I don't think we can move the ancestry of hominids outside of Africa just yet.

Professor Lee Burger, Research Professor in Human Evolution at Wits University

Click on the link below to listen to the full interview...


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