Researchers found 500,000-year-old signs of an extinct human species

Scientists have identified prehistoric stone tools found in Poland as some of the oldest ever discovered in that region. Further, the scientists say the tools could be evidence of an extinct human species that is believed to have existed between 450,000 to 550,000 years ago.

The tools were first discovered around 50 years ago in the Cave Tunel Wielki near Ojców, Poland. Most of the discoveries were boxed up shortly after being uncovered and then sent to storage. However, in 2018, scientists began working to figure out exactly what the tools were and where they came from. The consensus, according to a paper published in Scientific Reports, suggests they belonged to an extinct human species.

fossils in the dirt

Describing what time period the tools came from also required the scientists to revisit the cave, and in 2018, archaeologist Małgorzata Kot and her team began excavating from one of the trenches to collect more material to analyze. This work led them to uncover layers that contained bones of animals from the late Pleistocene and Holocene. This has led them to believe an extinct human species could have made the tools.

That’s because the stone tools were excavated from the same layer as bones belonging to those older time periods, which means the tools were most likely used within that same period of time, as well. Kot says it is interesting that the people of that time stayed in caves, as low temperatures and moisture would have discouraged that for any extinct human species.

Still, the discovery is notable because it once again helps us close a gap in the timeline of humanity’s evolution, a timeline that scientists have been working hard to complete for decades. Perhaps future studies into these tools and caves surrounding that same area could teach us more about the extinct human species that once roamed our planet, and further explain the origins of mankind.

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