My dearest pagan idols:

Happy Spring! My body is viciously rejecting the beautiful weather and sunshine that are causing the entire Bay Area to bloom! Why would it want to usher in the season of life when it can remind me daily that I am simply a bag of reactive cells that bow to no man! These histamines of mine are true goths; they prefer to keep it dark and indoors. Maybe I should give in and shut myself in a coffin for the next couple of weeks, a la Lestat crossing the Atlantic.

Flowers aren’t the only thing that show up in Spring – this is when CONSTRUCTION SEASON gets underway for real in the city. Contractors that have been hoarding large swaths of parking during the rainy season are actually using them now. Tire punctures are about to go up 50%, along with NextDoor complaints about noise. Neurotic homeowners all over town are agonizing over the exact right shade of greige and Restoration fixtures, when what they should be doing is studying their flooring choices a little better. Because there might be some fossilized human teeth in that tile.

HAVE YOU GUYS HEARD ABOUT THIS??? The story appeared first on Reddit, obviously. A poster named Kidipapeli75 noticed a strange pattern in his parent’s shower tile. It looked like human teeth. . . and IT WAS. The travertine contained a fossilized hominid mandible. We don’t know exactly how old it is, but it seems to be a human ancestor, which means it’s probably several hundred thousand years old.

NOW. I have talked about my remodeling goals. I dug up my classically terraced, useless SF backyard a few years ago and I was strenuously manifesting some archaeological finds. A Victorian era lead coffin with a well preserved human child in it, a Viking long ship filled with elaborate grave goods, a strange massive concrete box filled with old garbage (this happened to one of my neighbors), or maybe JUST a tombstone! We found none of these things, but did get an old plastic curler with some creepy hairs still attached to it.

These people in Europe hit the fucking jackpot, as far as I am concerned. A human fossil!! In their shower!! No one will ever forget to floss again!! Also, you best believe I ran straight to my front yard to check my own travertine for fossils. Rudely, there are no fossilized teeth. 

So how the fuck did this happen? I have spent all week reading about this and I am prepared to tell you! Travertine is a limestone that forms near natural springs. It forms over time in layers, and when plant matter, algae, or living things died and fell into it, they became fossilized over time. This stone is very popular for use in building – lots of classic structures in Italy are made of travertine, including the Trevi Fountain and St. Peter’s Basilica. It’s been mined in Europe for centuries, and the fossils and imperfections give it a characteristic look that people like. It adds texture and interest wherever it’s used. My own dubiously themed “Tuscan” home design straight out of the 2000’s features a shit load of travertine. Once again, no teeth though. 

Lumps of pale green travertine deposits floating in the still water of a hot spring in Estonia

Good Soup (Small travertine deposits around Konnavere springs in Estonia)

When the limestone is mined, it’s sliced into sheets for use in tile and building. Depending on the orientation of the fossil, it can be visible in the final material. If the fossil is sliced through horizontally, it will be harder to tell what it is. If there’s a clean vertical cut, you may get a stunning imprint of something that formed thousands of years ago. The facade of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles is made entirely of travertine, and it’s FULL of cool fossils. Depending on where they are mined, these fossils can be millions of years old.

As far as the OP can tell, the travertine in his parents’ shower is from Turkey. Plenty of weird shit has been found in travertine mined from this area. In 2002, miners discovered a cross section of a human cranium that was dated to 1.2-1.4 MILLION years ago. This was not a human, but one of our ancestors, homo erectus. Analysis of the bone suggests that the person/proto-person may have died of tuberculosis, which is so hauntingly modern. Neanderthal and homo heidelbergensis fossils have been found in German quarries. Those are somewhat younger, between 470,000 and 280,0000 years ago.

One cool part of this story is that the OP is actually a dentist – that’s how he knew right away that he was looking at a mandible. I can only imagine how thrilled his parents are to have paid for all that dental school only to have him reveal ANCIENT HUMAN REMAINS in their bathroom remodel.

Definitely check out the original thread and the rest of the analysis linked in here – it’s so interesting and it may just send you on a weeklong binge of YouTube videos about ancient humans. Totally normal stuff to do when your precious, bitch-ass genome has you sealed up in your house for weeks on end hiding from nature’s greatest predator, cedar pollen.