Tautavel site
A large adult tooth, nearly 560,000 years old, was found by a 16-year-old French volunteer at a archaeological prehistoric site in in Tautavel. In the photo -- French paleontologist Marie-Antoinette De Lumley works at the prehistoric site of Caune de l'Arago in Tautavel on July 16, 2013. Forty years after the discovery of the Man of Tautavel, homo erectus tautavelensis, the Caune de l'Arago still provides a wealth of clues for researchers, who in 2011 discoverd a baby tooth, suggesting Homo heidelbergensis, probably the ancestor of Homo sapiens in Africa and the Neanderthals in Europe, led a family life in the cave. Getty Images/AFP/Raymond Roig

A large adult tooth nearly 560,000 years old was found by a 16-year-old French volunteer archeologist in southwestern France, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported Tuesday. Researchers have hailed the finding as a “major discovery.”

The tooth was reportedly found at a prehistoric site in Tautavel, which has been excavated for about 50 years. The region is reportedly one of the world’s most important prehistoric sites and is located in Languedoc-Roussillon, a coastal region in southern France.

“A large adult tooth -- we can't say if it was from a male or female -- was found during excavations of soil we know to be between 550,000 and 580,000 years old, because we used different dating methods," paleoanthropologist Amelie Viallet told AFP. "This is a major discovery because we have very few human fossils from this period in Europe.”

A volunteer, who was identified only by her first name, Camille, reportedly found the tooth in the Arago Cave while working with another young archaeologist at the site.

Christian Perrenoud, a geo-archaeologist working on the site, said that while the tooth was a "great find," there is a lot more left to unearth.

"We are pretty confident that the site has a lot more to reveal," he told The Local. "Human remains from between 500,000 and 800,000 years ago are more than scarce in Europe nowadays, and this tooth fills a bit of the gap of the incompleteness in this 300,000-year period."

The site where the tooth was found is also the same place where fossils belonging to the Tautavel Man, a species that lived an estimated 450,000 years ago, were discovered.