Science research and studies conducted over the years believe that the first people came to Europe only about 1.2 million years ago, however, strange bones found at Saint Prest in the 19th century by a French paleontologist suggest that people making stone tools lived in Europe 2 million years ago.
In April 1863, scientist Jules Desnoyer, from the French National Museum came to the commune of Saint Prest in northwestern France to excavate fossils.
He began excavating in sandy gravel and soon discovered the bones of an ancient rhinoceros.
Upon examining a bone, he noticed a number of strange narrow grooves on it, which obviously could not be left by the fangs or claws of predators.
In addition to grooves, he found round marks on the same bone, which could remain if the bones were deliberately poked with something sharp.
After pondering his latest find, Desnoyer suggested the idea that marks and grooves could have been left on the bone with a sharp knife or flint blade.
However, the interesting part is that the bones of the rhinoceros were found in an archaeological layer that was dated about 2 million years ago and was from the Pliocene era.
During this period, the modern human species did not yet exist, and its famous ancestors lived only in Africa.
Desnoyer was highly intrigued after what he found, interested in this phenomenon, and decided to study other fossils found at Saint Prest belonging to the same paleontological layer.
He found similar fossils in the museums of Chartres and the School of Mines in Paris, and in many of them, he saw the exact same strange grooves as on the rhinoceros bone he discovered.
After that, Desnoyer decided to report his discovery to the French Academy of Sciences and soon faced criticism.
They assured that in Europe at such distant past, the existence of human beings making tools was simply impossible and stated that the bones from Saint Prest were probably from a much later period.
It is officially believed that the first people on the territory of Europe appeared no earlier than 1.2-1.3 million years ago.
Their remains were found in a cave in Spain.
Critics believed that the bones discovered by Desnoyer were also dated to 1.2 million years old and not earlier.
However, even after their statements, the bones discovered by Desnoyer caused a lot of controversy and discussion.
Some researchers have put forward the version that these bones really are 2 million years old, but the grooves were left on them by the tools of workers who dug them out roughly and carelessly.
However, Desnoyer was able to prove that the tracks of the grooves were covered with mineral deposits, like other surfaces of the fossil bones.
The famous British geologist Sir Charles Lyell suggested that the tracks were left by the teeth of rodents, but the French historian Gabriel de Mortier said that the tracks could not have been left by animals.
Instead, he hypothesized that they were left behind by the edges of sharp stones being moved over bones by geological pressure.
Louis Bourgeois, a clergyman who also earned a reputation as an eminent paleontologist, believed in Denoyer and independently examined the layers of Saint-Preste in search of the very stone tools that could have left marks on the bones carefully.
Through his research, he eventually discovered several flints that he believed were genuine tools made by humans.
In January 1867, he submitted a report regarding the bones to the French Academy of Sciences.
The famous French anthropologist Armand de Catrefage found out that these tools included scrapers, drills, and spearheads.
However, even that didn’t satisfy the critical de Mortillet, who said that the flints discovered by Bourgeois at Saint-Pest were fractured by geological pressure, and were not stone tools made by man.
In 1910, renowned American paleontologist, Henry Fairfield Osborne, made the following interesting remarks about the presence of stone tools at Saint Preste:
“The earliest traces of a person in layers of this age were incised bones discovered by Denoyer at Saint-Preste near Chartres in 1863. Doubts about the artificial nature of these incisions were eliminated by recent studies of Laville and Ruteau, which resulted in the discovery of eolithic chert, completely which confirmed the discoveries of the Abbot Bourgeois in these deposits in 1867 “.
However, despite all this, the science preferred to consider Denoyer’s bones dated 1.2 million years, and then only rare alternative researchers, like Michael Cremo, showed interest in these findings.