Twenty-year-old Valentin Loescher was on his first expedition to the Arago cave near Tautavel when he discovered what is now believed to be one of the oldest teeth ever found in France.

The exact age of the tooth is yet to be determined, but it was discovered in a mound of dirt believed to be between 550,000 and 580,000 years old.

This would mean the tooth pre-dates the Tautavel Man, a pre-historic hunter whose remains were found in 1971, by approximately 100,000 years.

Yves Coppens, a member of the team who found the ancestral remains of Lucy in Ethiopia in the 1970s, told France Info Radio, "A tooth can tell us a whole range of things. Its shape and wear and tear tells us about the eating habits of the person in question; the tissue reveals a lot of information. The DNA can give an idea as to who this person was.”

Loescher himself remains very humble about the discovery, saying, "I’m not sure if it has sunk in yet. I’m happy, but there’s nothing to be proud of. I was just in the right section at the right time.”



 Tautavel Man, a proposed hominid human ancestor, was found between 1964 and 1969 and is 450,000 years old. He is believed to have been 20-years-old at the time of death.

 The shape of Tautavel Man's skull revealed he had the capacity for speech. Upon analysis, the inside of the fossil's revealed a brain shape that would allow the ability for language.

 France is home to some of the most well-known sites for the discovery of early humans, including Lascaux and Chauvet.

Cover image: Wikimedia Commons