St. Prest Fossils Sparked Controversy about Human Life in Pliocene Era


Jules Desnoyers who was working for the French National Museum in north-western France discovered a part of rhinoceros tibia from sandy gravels in April 1863. He noticed that the bone had a series of narrow grooves. There were small circular marks on the fossil that could only be made by pointed tools. Desnoyers felt that some of the grooves were made by sharp knives or flint implements. This would mean there were human beings in France in the Pliocene era. Pliocene era ended about 2 million years ago and modern human beings did not come into being then.

 

It seems humans existed in the Pliocene Era

After reporting his findings to the French Academy of Sciences it started a rage among the researchers. St. Prest site was confirmed as a place belonging to the Late Pliocene era. Possibility of human beings in Europe during that time frame who used sophisticated stone tools would seem improbable. Earliest human ancestors were the Australopithecus and Homo hibilis from Africa. They were later recognised as the first stone tool makers. Soon doubts were raised by other researchers. Some felt that the Pliocene site was as old as 1.2-1.6 million years. The controversies raged on in the nineteenth century when many opponents felt the marks were made by the tools of the workmen who excavated the site. But Desnoyers argued that the cut marks were covered by mineral deposits similar to those found in other surfaces of the fossil bones.

 

Jules Desnoyers who made the astounding find at St. Prest

A prominent British geologist Sir Charles Lyell suggested that the marks were made by rodents teeth and French prehistorian Gabriel de Mortillet felt that the marks were made by sharp stones that moved by geological pressure across the bones. Louis Bourgeois who was a distinguished Palaeontologist carefully searched through the strata at St. Prest to gather evidence. He patiently searched through the sites and found a number of flints that he felt were genuine tools. Another French anthropologist said these tools were borers, scrapers and lance points. In 1910 famous American Palaeontologist Henry Fairfield affirmed that the earliest traces of human existence were discovered at St. Prest. The doubts of artificial character of the incisions were removed by recent explorations done by Laville and Rutot. Theis pair of researchers also discovered some Eolithic flints at the site.

 

So there was definitely human races before the times of our pre-held ancestors from Africa.

 

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