Image: DEA / A. DAGLI ORTI/De Agostini via Getty Images

With an area of just 122 square miles, the Republic of Malta represents little more than a series of specks upon the Earth. Yet despite its small size, the archipelago actually has an incredibly rich history. In fact, it’s a story that stretches back many thousands of years. There’s even evidence of ancient peoples having lived on the islands – and we’re not just talking about Homo sapiens

Image: Vincent Mia Edie Verheyen

Back in 1917, you see, a paleontologist named Giuseppe Despott was conducting works in Malta. And as Despott carried out a dig inside a cave, the expert made a significant discovery: some teeth. But these fossilized chompers hadn’t actually belonged to a modern human at all. In fact, they’d come from a species that roamed the Earth some 40,000 years ago.

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