A photo of the jawbone/teeth a dentist found in a new travertine floor.

Dentist who spots teeth in his tile floor gains worldwide attention

April 30, 2024
Thousands of people are fascinated by and following the story of the jawbone a dentist found embedded in his parent's new tile floor. Experts are working to determine what the bones belonged to.
Meg Kaiser, Associate Editor

What better expert to recognize human teeth embedded in floor tile than a dentist, right?

Wait. What? Human teeth in floor tile?

Yes, you read that right. A European dentist recently looked down to admire his parent’s freshly retiled travertine floor, and to his amazement noticed a set of teeth staring back at him. He posted a photo and information about his finding on a fossil subgroup on Reddit, where he goes by Kidipadeli75. (The dentist has chosen to remain anonymous.) 

Thousands of amateur sleuths and those with an interest in fossils, teeth, and unusual news read and commented on the post. Many readers couldn’t resist having some fun with kidipadeli75’s find.

“Um, do you have any siblings you haven’t seen in a while?

“Maybe you found Jimmy Hoffa.”

“Literal jaw dropper.”

“Imagine dying and then ending up as someone’s kitchen floor.”

“I like my floors with a little bite to them anyway.”

“This is how they used to make x-rays back in the Flintstones’ days.”

And the punsters also had their fun.

“The mandifloorian.”

“Oh look. It’s Jawnathon.”

“Emandible since it’s Spanish [tile].”

Some people even asked for the lot number where the slab came from in the hope of finding their own jawbone set in tile.

Of course, the comments weren’t all in jest. Several experts, including dentists, paleontologists, and professors, weighed in with their analyses, and most agree it appears to be a hominid mandible and “almost certainly human.” They shared several websites and informational articles that discuss what the bones could be, and many pointed out that this is not the first time something like this has happened.

Turns out that travertine floors have a history of interesting finds embedded in them. According to an article in Forbes, “'Travertine tile has been known to contain fossils of plants, algae, and animals, including rhinos and giraffes, with human fossils a far rarer find,' University of Wisconsin paleoanthropologist John Hawks wrote in a blog post about the jawbone discovery.”

Read Dr. Hawks’ blog, “How many bathrooms have Neanderthals in the tile?”

Keeping his Reddit followers in the loop, kidipadeli75 has let them know that the quarry where the jawbone came from “seems to be located in Turkey (initially thought it was Spain), that it’s natural travertine,” and he has “been contacted by several researchers and is currently discussing how to get them involved.” An international team of scientists recently did become involved, according to Forbes.

Another team of experts removed the tile so as not to break the jawbone, and early speculation beginning to trickle in from experts places the bone between 200,000 and 500,000 years old, based on previous similar finds. Studies are still in the very early stages.

News of the find has been reported in several publications, including the Washington Post and Smithsonian magazine. 

Several readers declared the Reddit conversation the most interesting thing they’ve ever read on the platform. Feel free to join the Reddit conversation for updates.