13-Million Year Old Ape Skull Discovered….!!!

Infant ape's tiny skull could have a big impact on ape evolution

Researchers say they've found a 13 million-year-old fossil in the Turkana Basin of northern Kenya that sheds new light on the evolution of apes. It likely belonged to a fruit-eating, slow-climbing primate that resembled a baby gibbon, the researchers said. However, far less is known about the common ancestors of all living apes and humans from before 10 million years ago. Today's apes and humans are the descendants of one of these Miocene ape lineages.

The discovery, made in Kenya, indicates what the common ancestor of all living apes and humans may have looked like.

Now these questions can be more fully addressed because the newly discovered ape fossil, nicknamed Alesi by its discoverers, and known by its museum number KNM-NP 59050, comes from a critical time period in the African past. The Kenyan fossil hunter John Ekusi found Alesi's skull in ancient rock layers in the Napudet area, west of Lake Turkana. The species name is taken from the Turkana word for ancestor "ales". Numerous descent died approximately 7 million years ago when a natural calamity struck the Earth or a natural climate change occurred.

"A nearby volcano buried the forest where the baby ape lived, preserving the fossil and countless trees", Feibel said. "It also provided us with the critical volcanic minerals by which we were able to date the fossil".

The Rutgers Geology Museum in New Brunswick plans to display a cast of the infant ape skull at its 50th annual open house on January 27, 2018.

It remains uncertain how Alesi died.

The skull was found in the Napudet region of the Turkana Basin, Kenya, and was kept nearly intact because its body was blanketed in ashfall from a nearby volcanic eruption.

The lemon-size skull still had the roots of its baby teeth, and none of the adult teeth had erupted from the jaw yet.

Several of the infant skull's features, including those downsized semicircular canals, connect it to a poorly understood, 7-million- to 8-million-year-old ape called Oreopithecus.

"From the teeth, we can tell it generally ate fruits", Miller said. However, Alesi's teeth were much larger than those of other members of this genus, so the scientists declared that Alesi belonged to a new species, Nyanzipithecus alesi.

"We've been looking for ape fossils for years - this is the first time we're getting a skull that's complete", said Isaiah Nengo, the anthropologist from De Anza College in California who led the discovery, according to National Geographic. Nengo noted he plans to continue fieldwork in the region and he expects to use Alesi as "kind of an anchor" for studying babies and their role in the evolution of apes and humans.

The researchers can not tell if Alesi was male or female, as the infant was too young for the features of the skull that distinguish the sexes to have emerged, the researchers said.

Based on a presumably rapid growth rate, the scientists calculated that the ancient ape would have weighed about 11.3 kilograms as an adult.

The new skull has a noticeably small snout, like a gibbon, but scans of the inside of the cranium reveal that it had ear tubes which are closer to chimpanzees and humans.

"The living apes are found all across Africa and Asia-chimps and gorillas in Africa, orangutans and gibbons in Asia-and there are many fossil apes found on both continents, and Europe as well", Christopher Gilbert, paleoanthropologist at Hunter College in NY and co-author of the paper, tells Choi. That allows the apes to swing acrobatically from one tree branch to another. In particular, Begun doesn't agree that Nyanzapithecines should be recognized as a distinct group, or that they were more modern than other known primates from the time, namely Proconsul (an extinct genus of primates that lived between 23 to 25 million years ago) and Ekembo (a similar genus that lived 20 to 17 million years ago). Read the original article here.

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