History of the Arago Cave
The area of the Arago Cave is probably most well-known for the finding of the Tautavel Man fossil. The fossil was one of the oldest fossils found to date. Until this past week.
The cave was thought to be occupied around 700,000 to 35,000 years ago, as the findings have resulted in a variety animal, human bones, and tools. All a different age that suggests the cave was occupied at various points in the past.
It would make sense, as the cave is overlooking a valley which can make for a bird’s eye view below, and make watching the local game a lot easier. Also interesting in the finds is that the species of humans that lived here were capable of speaking as revealed by various skulls. Later experts agreed that the characteristics found were of a pre-Neanderthal Homo erectus, one group before the emergence of Neanderthals as we know it.
The finding of the 560,000-year-old tooth
Which is why the finding of the 560,000-year-old tooth was so significant. The tooth that was found completely isolated from any other fossil with no nearby skull it belonged to was dated to be 100,000 years older than the Tautavel Man.
This was found this past Thursday, when two young French archaeologists began working on the area. There, the 560,000-year-old tooth was found and revealed to be a worn down incisor.
Finding this ancient tooth was truly a great find and very fortuitous as most fossils that date from 500,000 to 800,000 are a rare commodity in Europe, especially since no burials were done then. The 560,000-year-old tooth helps to fill in the blanks for the archaeology community about that point in time. It can also tell a lot about the lifestyle existing during that time. The person that was supervising the excavation site was Amélie Vialet, a paleoanthropologist.
The site of the Arago Cave has been a point of interest for scientists and have turned up many interesting finds about that lost prehistoric era. At the moment–although it is highly doubtful–the team is hoping to find the body the 560,000-year-old tooth belonged to in order to get more information on the people who lived before the Neanderthals.