When a European dentist went to see his parents’ newly renovated house, he was not expecting to find a jawbone in one of the bathroom tiles.

He took a photo of the discovery and posted it to Reddit, saying, “My parents just got their home renovated with travertin stone. This looks like a section of mandible. Could it be a hominid? Is it usual?”

According to The Washington Post, the dentist recognized the shape of the jawbone and shared with the Post that “the object in the tile bears a striking similarity to a slice of an image taken with a form of CT scan used in dentistry.”

The scientific community is excited

Amélie Vialet, a paleoanthropologist from the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in France, told The Atlantic that the jawbone seems to belong to a human-like species but is likely much older than humankind.

“We can see that it is thick and with large teeth. That’s archaic,” she said.

Vialet and a team of researchers hope to extract the tile undamaged and conduct scans on the jawbone. They’re curious to find out what information they can extract from the teeth, such as what was last eaten and DNA, The Atlantic reported.

In order to study the jawbone, Mirjana Roksandic from the University of Winnipeg will bring in a stone mason that specializes in removing tiles from special displays, like mosaics, to make sure the fossil is not damaged, Forbes reported.

The dentist is not the first person to find a fossil in a house tile. Decades ago, workers found part of a skull in Turkey while preparing tiles that would be sold commercially, per Forbes.

What travertine tiles have to do with fossils

The dentist shared in his post that the tile the fossil was trapped in was made of travertine, a type of stone, and originated in Turkey.

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The Atlantic reported that travertine is a popular material to create tiles from and most come from Turkey near natural hot springs. They are a popular choice for floors and walls because of their durability and beauty, per Forbes.

According to Professor Mehmet Cihat Alcicek from Turkey’s Pamukkale University, travertine tiles often contain fossils from animals and plants. Previous findings include mammoth, giraffe and turtle fossils, per The Washington Post.

Other stone quarries have also yielded fossils, such as one in Germany that had skulls and jawbones thought to be from neanderthals or other early human species.

Newsweek reports that the jawbone found by the dentist could be between 100,000 and 1 million years old. It may have come from “a homo erectus or similar who fell into a hot spring and died.”

Police officers thought they found a crime scene. Their discovery turned out to be 2,500 years old
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