The belief that humans came out of Africa millions of years ago is widely believed. But it might be about to be entirely re-written, according to the authors of a new study.
They claim to have found a footprint in Crete that could change the narrative of early human evolution, suggesting that our ancestors were in modern Europe far earlier than we ever thought.
The accepted story of the human lineage has been largely set since researchers found fossils of our early ancestors in South and East Africa, in the middle of the 20th century. Later discoveries appeared to suggest that those that followed remained isolated in Africa for millions of years before finally moving out and into Europe and Asia.
But the new discovery of a footprint that appears to have belonged to a human that trod down in Crete 5.7 million years ago challenges that story. Humans may have left and been exploring other continents including Europe far earlier than we knew.
"This discovery challenges the established narrative of early human evolution head-on and is likely to generate a lot of debate," said Professor Per Ahlberg, who was an author on the study. "Whether the human origins research community will accept fossil footprints as conclusive evidence of the presence of hominins in the Miocene of Crete remains to be seen."