French archaeology students find 560,000-year-old tooth

PARIS (KRON/AP) — A major archeological discovery in southwestern France: A 560,000-year-old human tooth has been unearthed in one of Europe’s most important prehistoric sites. It’s believed to be the oldest human body part ever discovered in France.

Two archaeology students found the tooth during excavations at Tautavel, a cave famous for the discovery of a 450,000-year-old human skull in the early 1970s, known by scientists as the “Tautavel Man.”

Paleoanthropologist Tony Chevalier says that the latest finding will help fill a gap between the very few oldest human fossils, notably found in Spain and Germany, and more recent ones.

It’s also prompting hope that more human fossils from this period will be unearthed on the site. Christian Perrenoud, a geologist and archaeologist and director of Tautavel’s excavations said, “Our daily life is to determine what human activities looked like 560,000 years ago,” he said.

“We believe these men have lived for a long time in the cave or have regularly come back into it,” Chevalier said. “We also know that the area was quite cold at the time. It was a steppe, with no trees. There had to be some long periods with snow.”

The thousands of finds on the site include prehistoric tools and bones from animals, especially horses, reindeers and buffalos.

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