Navigation Links
Ancient anthropoid origins discovered in Africa

The fossil teeth and jawbones of two new species of tiny monkey-like creatures that lived 37 million years ago have been sifted from ancient sediments in the Egyptian desert, researchers have reported.

They said their findings firmly establish that the common ancestor of living anthropoids -- including monkeys, apes and humans -- arose in Africa and that the group had already begun branching into many species by that time. Also, they said, one of the creatures appears to have been nocturnal, the first example of a nocturnal early anthropoid.

The researchers published their discovery of the two new species -- named Biretia fayumensis and Biretia megalopsis -- in an article in the October 14, 2005, issue of the journal Science. First author on the paper was Erik Seiffert of the University of Oxford and Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Other co-authors were Elwyn Simons and Prithijit Chatrath of Duke University, William Clyde of the University of New Hampshire, James Rossie of Stony Brook University, Yousry Attia of the Egyptian Geological Museum, Thomas Bown of Erathem-Vanir Geological in Boulder, Colo., and Mark Mathison of Iowa State University. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation and the Leakey Foundation. Field work in Egypt was facilitated by the Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority and the Egyptian Geological Museum.

The researchers discovered the fossils over the course of the last few years at a site called Birket Qarun Locality 2 (BQ-2) about 60 miles southwest of Cairo in the Fayum desert. BQ-2 has only been systematically excavated for about four years, said Seiffert, in contrast to a much younger Fayum site, called L-41, which has been explored for the last 22 years by Simons and his colleagues.

"BQ-2 and surrounding localities have tremendous potential, which is exciting because they are so much older than other Fayum sites," said Seiffert. "There will certainly be much more information about early anthropoid evolution coming out of BQ-2 over the next few years." The sediments at BQ-2 lie nearly 750 feet below those of L-41 and were dated at around 37 million years old by measuring telltale variations in magnetic fields in the sediments due to ancient fluctuations in the earth's magnetic fields. According to Simons, other anthropoids exist at BQ-2 and will soon be described,

The latest fossils of the new species consist of tiny teeth and jaws, whose shapes yield critical clues about the species whose mouths they once occupied. For example, a tooth root from the species Biretia megalopsis is truncated, indicating that it had to make room for the larger eyesocket of a nocturnal animal.

"These finds seem to indicate that Biretia megalopsis must have had very large eyes, and so was likely nocturnal," said Seiffert. "This has never been documented in an early anthropoid. The simplest explanation is that Biretia's nocturnality represents an evolutionary reversal from a diurnal ancestor, but that conclusion is based solely on the probable pattern of relationships. If down the road we find out that our phylogeny was wrong, Biretia could end up being very significant for our understanding of the origin of anthropoid activity patterns."

According to Simons, analyses of the teeth of the two species clearly place them as members of a group called parapithecoids, known as "stem" anthropoids because they constitute the species of early creatures from which the subsequent "crown" anthropoid line arose."The finding of these parapithecoids from such an ancient time confirms that crown anthropoids -- a group including all modern anthropoids -- have their earliest known beginnings in Africa," said Simons. "They show that findings by other researchers of isolated examples of possible higher primate fossils in Asia do not constitute evidence of an ancestral crown anthropoid lineage there."

According to Seiffert, the latest findings help fill in the gap between later anthropoids and the oldest undisputed anthropoid, called Algeripithecus, found in Algeria, which lived around 45 million years ago. That species had been characterized by only a few teeth, which precluded significant insight into the species, said Seiffert.

Seiffert also noted that previously, the only evidence for anthropoids at 37 million years ago in Africa was a single tooth, attributed to a species called Biretia piveteaui. What's more, the latest discoveries of the two species suggest that a 57-million-year-old African primate called Altiatlasius from Morocco might even be the earliest anthropoid ancestor.


'"/>

Source:Duke University


Related biology news :

1. Ancient olfaction protein is shared by many bugs, offering new pest control target
2. Ancient immune defense mechanism is no match for HIV-1
3. Ancient DNA helps clarify the origins of two extinct New World horse species
4. Researchers Discover Ancient Origins Of Tuberculosis-causing Bacteria
5. Ancient DNA confirms single origin of Malagasy primates
6. Ancient trans-Atlantic swarm brought locusts to the New World
7. Ancient humans brought bottle gourds to the Americas from Asia
8. Ancient DNA helps UF researchers unearth potential hemophilia therapy
9. Ancient DNA provides clues to the evolution of social behavior
10. Ancient ants arose 140-168 million years ago
11. Ancient fossil DNA found preserved in crystal
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:6/21/2016)... June 21, 2016 NuData Security announced today ... role of principal product architect and that ... of customer development. Both will report directly to ... The moves reflect NuData,s strategic growth in its ... high customer demand and customer focus values. ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... , June 9, 2016  Perkotek an innovation leader in attendance control systems is ... log work hours, for employers to make sure the right employees are actually signing ... http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160609/377486LOGO ... ... ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... 2, 2016 The Department of Transport ... the 44 million US Dollar project, for the , ... including Personalization, Enrolment, and IT Infrastructure , to ... production and implementation of Identity Management Solutions. Numerous renowned international ... Decatur was selected for the most compliant ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... Parallel 6 , the ... today the Clinical Reach Virtual Patient Encounter CONSULT module which enables both ... physician and clinical trial team. , Using the CONSULT module, patients and physicians can ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... Chapel Hill, N.C. (PRWEB) , ... June 27, ... ... of U.S. commercial operations for Amgen, will join the faculty of the ... will serve as adjunct professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at UNC Kenan-Flagler, with ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... BOSTON , June 27, 2016   Ginkgo ... biology to industrial engineering, was today awarded as ... a selection of the world,s most innovative companies. ... at scale for the real world in the ... organism engineers work directly with customers including Fortune ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016 Epic Sciences ... detects cancers susceptible to PARP inhibitors by targeting ... cells (CTCs). The new test has already been ... in multiple cancer types. Over 230 ... damage response pathways, including PARP, ATM, ATR, DNA-PK ...
Breaking Biology Technology: