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Europe's oldest human fossil could be almost 1 million years old

Testing dates the fossil's teeth at between 772,000 and 949,000 years old.

J.M. Bermúdez de Castro/M.N.C.N.

A fossil found in the Atapuerca Gran Dolina archaeological site in northern Spain was long thought to be the oldest recorded remains of humanity, but now researchers have dated it. Using teeth.

The tooth, taken from a fossil found in the Atapuerca Gran Dolina site in Spain, is thought to be between 772,000 and 949,000 years old.

In short: extremely old.

The results are consistent with previous beliefs about the age of the fossil, based on genetic evidence.

M. Modesto

Carbon dating is limited in cases as old as this. This tooth was aged using Electron spin resonance. Previously this was used only on large mammals but has more recently been used to age actual human teeth, via a non-destructive procedure.

An international team of researchers from Australia, China, France and Spain collaborated on the study. You can read the results on ScienceDirect here.