Δεν ξεκίνησε από την Αφρική η εξέλιξη του ανθρώπινου είδους; ~ Το εύρημα που ίσως ανατρέπει τα πάντα

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Η ανακάλυψη στη Γερμανία των απολιθωμένων οστών ενός αρχαίου πιθήκου ηλικίας 11,62 εκατομμυρίων ετών, του Δανούβιου (Danuvius guggenmosi), δείχνει ότι πιθανώς οι πρώτοι πίθηκοι που στάθηκαν όρθιοι στα δύο πόδια τους, δεν εξελίχθηκαν στην Αφρική, όπως είναι η έως τώρα κυρίαρχη αντίληψη, αλλά στην Ευρώπη.

Οι ερευνητές, με επικεφαλής την καθηγήτρια παλαιοανθρωπολογίας Μαντελάιν Μπέμε του Πανεπιστημίου του Τίμπινγκεν, που έκαναν τη σχετική δημοσίευση στο περιοδικό «Nature», έκαναν λόγο για «ορόσημο στην παλαιοανθρωπολογία» και για «ευρήματα που μπορούν να φέρουν επανάσταση στην άποψή μας για την ανθρώπινη εξέλιξη».

Οι επιστήμονες βρήκαν στη Βαυαρία της νότιας Γερμανίας 37 οστά (χωρίς κανένα πλήρες κρανίο) που ανήκαν σε ένα ενήλικο αρσενικό, δύο ενήλικα θηλυκά και ένα παιδί. Εκτιμάται ότι επρόκειτο για ένα μικρόσωμο πίθηκο, που είχε ύψος έως ένα μέτρο και βάρος 17 έως 31 κιλά, ο οποίος θα μπορούσε να είχε υπάρξει κοινός πρόγονος των κατοπινών μεγαλύτερων πιθήκων (χιμπατζήδων, γοριλλών, ουρακοτάγκων, μπονόμπο) και των ανθρώπων στην Ευρώπη.

Ικανός να σταθεί στα 2 πόδια

Το ασυνήθιστο στην ανατομία του είναι πως ενώ τα χέρια του ήταν μακριά για να κρέμεται από τα δέντρα, τα πόδια του έμοιαζαν με ανθρώπινα. Αυτό υποδηλώνει ότι κατά πάσα πιθανότητα -αντίθετα με όλους τους γνωστούς πιθήκους- ήταν ικανός να σταθεί όρθιος στα δύο πόδια του πάνω στα δέντρα ή και να περπατήσει όρθιος στο έδαφος, πολύ πριν εμφανιστούν οι πρώτοι άνθρωποι στη Γη.

Η εμφάνιση του διποδισμού αποτελεί σημείο επιστημονικής διαμάχης. Κατέβηκαν οι πρόγονοι του ανθρώπου από τα δέντρα με έτοιμη την ικανότητα να περπατούν όρθιοι στα δύο πίσω πόδια τους ή αυτή η ικανότητα αναπτύχθηκε από τετράποδα πλάσματα μετά από ένα έως δύο εκατομμύρια χρόνια διαβίωσης τους στο έδαφος στα τέσσερα; Ό,τι και αν ισχύει, οι ειδικοί πάντως συμφωνούν -με βάση τα έως τώρα δεδομένα- ότι τα πρώτα πλάσματα περπάτησαν όρθια πριν περίπου πέντε έως επτά εκατομμύρια χρόνια.

Εύρημα που ίσως ανατρέπει τα πάντα

Ο ηλικίας 4,4 εκατομμυρίων ετών Αρδιπίθηκος ήταν σίγουρα δίποδος. Ο αρχαιότερος διποδισμός -το «σήμα κατατεθέν» της ανθρωπότητας- μέχρι τώρα είχε βρεθεί στον Σαχελάνθρωπο του Τσαντ που έζησε πριν έξι εκατομμύρια χρόνια.

Αν ο Danuvius όντως στεκόταν στα δύο πόδια του, τότε η καταγωγή του διποδισμού θα πρέπει να μετατεθεί πολύ παλαιότερα. Επιπλέον, η Αφρική θα χάσει την πρωτιά του διποδισμού υπέρ της Ευρώπης.

Ορισμένοι επιστήμονες, όπως ο Ντέιβιντ Μπίγκαν του Πανεπιστημίου του Τορόντο, υποστηρίζουν ότι πράγματι οι πρώτοι όρθιοι πρόγονοι του ανθρώπου εμφανίστηκαν στην Ευρώπη και αργότερα μετακινήθηκαν στην Αφρική, αντιστρέφοντας έτσι την καθιερωμένη επιστημονική αφήγηση της εξέλιξης.

Μεταξύ άλλων, υποστηρίζει ότι ένας άλλος πίθηκος της Ευρώπης (o Rudapithecus) μπορούσε να βαδίσει στα δύο πόδια του, αλλά βασίζεται και σε σχετικά ευρήματα στην Ελλάδα, κυρίως στην ανακάλυψη του Γραικοπιθήκου ηλικίας 7,2 εκατ. ετών, καθώς και απολιθωμάτων από πατημασιές στην Κρήτη ηλικίας 5,7 εκατομμυρίων ετών που θα μπορούσαν να έχουν γίνει από δίποδους ανθρωπίδες.

Άλλοι επιστήμονες πάντως -παρά και τα νέα ευρήματα- εμφανίζονται σκεπτικιστές για τη θεωρία περί εμφάνισης του διποδισμού στην Ευρώπη και αναμένουν περισσότερες ανακαλύψεις για να πειστούν.

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