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Discover the earliest ancestors of modern apes

Fossils excavated in northern India reveal an unknown ancient ape that lived 13 million years ago.

The specimen – including an almost complete lower molar – represents the first new humanoid ape fossil found in the Ramnagar area, Uttarakhand state, in nearly a century. The team led by Associate Professor Christopher C. Gilbert from Hunter University in America named this ancient ape Kapi ramnagarensis.

Image of ancient gibbon Kapi ramnagarensis. Photo: Forbes Finance.

In a report in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, scientists describe Kapi ramnagarensis as the earliest known ancestor of modern apes. The discovery filled large gaps in the fossil record of humanoid ape.

Gilbert and his associates found the 13-million-year-old tooth by chance while climbing at a famous fossil site in Ramnagar. While resting, the group saw something shiny emerging from the ground and as they dug it up, they quickly realized it was a special discovery.

The scene found fossil teeth. Photo: Biren Patel.

“We know it’s a ape’s teeth, but it doesn’t resemble the teeth samples of any of the primate in the area. Based on the shape and size, we surmised that the molar might belong. ancestors of modern apes, so the team brought the specimen to analyze to find the correct answer, “shared Gilbert.

The team took pictures and computed tomography of the fossil, then compared it with tooth samples from both modern apes and apes to highlight similarities and differences in anatomy.

Computerized tomography of fossil teeth of Kapi ramnagarensis. Photo: Leakey Foundation.

“We found a strong link between the 13 million year old tooth with the living apes today. This is a unique discovery. It pushed back the record of the oldest known ape in the world.” at least 5 million years, providing a glimpse but important on the early stages in their evolutionary history, “said Alejandra Ortiz, a member of the research team.

In addition, the new discovery provides evidence of the migration of great apes (including the ancestors of orangutans) and small ape from Africa to Asia, occurring at the same time and across locations. same.

Gilbert (center) with members of the research team. Photo: Leakey Foundation.

“I found really interesting biophysical constituents. Today, gibbons and orangutans are both found in Sumatra and Borneo in Southeast Asia, while the oldest humanoid fossil in the past has its origins in Africa. It’s nice to know that the ancestors of apes and orangutans lived in the same place in northern India 13 million years ago and could have a similar migration history across Asia, “said Chris Campisano, another team member, added.

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