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New species of prehistoric fossil ape unearthed

Posted on Thursday, 10 September, 2020 | Comment icon 8 comments

The species was a relative of today's gibbons. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Julielangford
Palaeontologists have discovered what is thought to be the earliest known ancestor of the modern-day gibbon.
Unearthed in northern India, the fossil - a lower molar - was discovered by Christopher C. Gilbert of Hunter College, and colleagues, while climbing a small hill near to where a fossil jaw had been unearthed only a few months earlier.

After stopping for a brief rest, Gilbert noticed something interesting on the ground nearby.

"We knew immediately it was a primate tooth, but it did not look like the tooth of any of the primates previously found in the area," he said.

"From the shape and size of the molar, our initial guess was that it might be from a gibbon ancestor, but that seemed too good to be true, given that the fossil record of lesser apes is virtually nonexistent."
"There are other primate species known during that time, and no gibbon fossils have previously been found anywhere near Ramnagar.

"So we knew we would have to do our homework to figure out exactly what this little fossil was."

It turned out that the molar belonged to a whole new species and genus of prehistoric ape which has since been named Kapi ramnagarensis.

"What we found was quite compelling and undeniably pointed to the close affinities of the 13-million-year-old tooth with gibbons," said researcher Alejandra Ortiz.

"Even if, for now, we only have one tooth, and thus, we need to be cautious, this is a unique discovery. It pushes back the oldest known fossil record of gibbons by at least five million years, providing a much-needed glimpse into the early stages of their evolutionary history."

Source: | Comments (8)

Tags: Primate, Gibbon

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Jon the frog on 11 September, 2020, 12:16
Interesting, but just one molar...damn that's not a lot !
Comment icon #2 Posted by Kleng on 12 September, 2020, 0:32
More than they had before!  
Comment icon #3 Posted by psyche101 on 12 September, 2020, 2:05
It's how the Denisovian's started. And Gigantopithicus. 
Comment icon #4 Posted by Imaginarynumber1 on 12 September, 2020, 2:36
A molar is the best tooth to have. From it you can infer geographical distribution, diet, social system, and even general locomotion. 
Comment icon #5 Posted by Peter B on 12 September, 2020, 4:15
Do you mind explaining how? Not doubting, just curious.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Imaginarynumber1 on 12 September, 2020, 5:48
Molar cusp pattern will right away tell you if it is a monkey or an ape. Monkeys have 4 cusps while apes have 5 (Known as Y-5 because the cusps form a Y pattern.)  So a Y-5 means it's a catarrhine (old world primate) and an ape and not a playtrrhine (New wolrd monkey) (Primates have ancestors in the Americas, bu they were neither apes nor monkeys yet. Mainly Omomyoids) Morphology shows that this tooth is consistent with stem hylobatids (gibbon genus) and therefore is likely to share similar dietary features as extant Gibbons based on area and past environment. Food resources dictate primate so... [More]
Comment icon #7 Posted by Peter B on 13 September, 2020, 1:59
Cool, thank you.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Artaxerxes on 18 September, 2020, 0:03
Wow!  Great post!  Well done!   Thanks for sharing.  ....  Art

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