Fossils of a New Ape Species Cause Rethink of Evolution

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tags: archaeology, evolution



A set of fossilised remains discovered during the construction of a landfill in Spain may cause the rewriting of ape and human evolution. The animal to which the bones belonged lived 11.6 million years ago, according to the researchers who analysed it, an international team from the Institut Catala de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont and George Washington University. This basically means it was a contemporary of the great apes, from which humans originated.

The significance of the find lies in the fact that so far it was widely believed in scientific circles that at some point along the evolutionary scale of apes and humans, a split occurred between great apes, or hominids, and lesser apes, or hylobatids, with the latter originating from the former. Yet this new species, which the researchers called Pliobates cataloniae, seems to have lived before this split between great and lesser apes occurred. This suggests that either the two branches of apes co-existed or that instead of lesser apes evolving from great ones, it was the other way round, one of the authors of the study, published in Science, told EurekAlert. Sergio Almecija, an anthropologist at George Washington University, added that the species provides a missing chapter to the beginnings of human and ape evolution.




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