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Extremely rare 13 million-year-old primate skull found
www.cnbc.com ^ | 08-09-2017 | Robert Ferris | @RobertoFerris

Posted on 08/09/2017 1:54:20 PM PDT by Red Badger

* This may be the most intact primate fossil skull ever discovered. * The fossil comes from a little-known period of primate evolutionary history.

Source: Fred Spoor This is Alesi, the skull of the new extinct ape species Nyanzapithecus alesi (KNM-NP 59050).

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A group of scientists have found what may be the most intact fossilized primate skull ever discovered, and the find could shed light on the common evolutionary heritage shared by apes and humans.

The lemon-sized skull was discovered in Kenya by an international team of researchers, and was dated to the middle of the Miocene era, a little-understood time when many species of ape arose in Africa, including common ancestors of both modern apes and humans.

This skull could give scientists insights into what those common ancestors looked like.

The team reported its findings Wednesday in the journal Nature.

The fossil, belonging to the newly named species Nyanzapithecus alesi, bears some resemblance to those of modern-day gibbons, and possesses features that would only be found in apes, such as ape-like teeth. However, certain features distinguish it from modern gibbons, suggesting it was a very different type of animal.

"Gibbons are well known for their fast and acrobatic behavior in trees," said Fred Spoor of University College London and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, in a press release. "But the inner ears of Alesi show that it would have had a much more cautious way of moving around."

The team used an extremely sensitive form of 3-D X-ray to peek inside the skull, revealing information that led them to conclude the skull belonged to an infant one to four months old when it died. Volcanic ash found around the fossil suggests it may have died during an eruption, but researchers cannot be sure.

Scientists estimate the Miocene period, which spanned from 25 million to 5 million years ago, produced more than 40 different species of hominoids — a term for a superfamily of primates that includes apes, humans, and related ancestral species.

It is extremely uncommon to find fossil primate skulls, especially those belonging to apes.

"Importantly, the African fossil record lacks any reasonably complete hominoid crania between 17 and 7 million years ago, and no cranial specimens are known at all from between 14 and 10 million years, greatly hampering the analysis of hominoid evolution," the researchers said in their study.

The study was sponsored by The Leakey Foundation and trustee Gordon Getty, the Foothill-De Anza Foundation, the Fulbright Scholars Program, the National Geographic Society, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility and the Max Planck Society.

Scientists will need to study the skull further, but can already draw a few conclusions.

"What the discovery of Alesi shows," said lead author Isaiah Nengo, a professor of anthropology at De Anza College in California and Stony Brook University in New York, "is that this group was close to the origin of living apes and humans and that this origin was African."

Robert FerrisScience Reporter


TOPICS: Education; History; Pets/Animals; Science
KEYWORDS: ape; evolution; fossil; human; missinglink; paleontology; primate; science; skull
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1 posted on 08/09/2017 1:54:20 PM PDT by Red Badger
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To: Red Badger

Huge eye sockets.


2 posted on 08/09/2017 1:57:16 PM PDT by rdl6989
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To: Red Badger

“Is this the missing link? Well, that’s a Gibbon.”


3 posted on 08/09/2017 1:59:35 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (You cannot invade the mainland US. There'd be a rifle behind every blade of grass.)
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To: Red Badger

[insert Ruth Bader Ginsberg joke here]


4 posted on 08/09/2017 2:01:02 PM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: rdl6989

Some scientists think that the brain developed as an adjunct to the eyes. They are very closely connected/related.


5 posted on 08/09/2017 2:01:39 PM PDT by generally ( Don't be stupid. We have politicians for that.)
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To: Red Badger

My, but what big eyes you have, Alesi!


6 posted on 08/09/2017 2:03:47 PM PDT by TigersEye (0bama. The Legacy is a lie. The lie is the Legacy.)
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To: Buckeye McFrog

Insert “it’s aliens” photo here... :-)


7 posted on 08/09/2017 2:06:38 PM PDT by cgbg (Hidden behind the social justice warrior mask is corruption and sexual deviance.)
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To: Buckeye McFrog

It was her prom date................


8 posted on 08/09/2017 2:08:19 PM PDT by Red Badger (Road Rage lasts 5 minutes. Road Rash lasts 5 months!.....................)
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To: Red Badger

Yes its a martyfledman sapien


9 posted on 08/09/2017 2:08:20 PM PDT by al baby (May the Forceps be with you Hi Mom Its a Joke friends)
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To: Red Badger
Is that Alesi? or Khaleesi?

>

10 posted on 08/09/2017 2:09:05 PM PDT by BroJoeK (a little historical perspective...)
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To: Red Badger

It’s a gibbon skull.


11 posted on 08/09/2017 2:09:26 PM PDT by Bodleian_Girl (Don't check the news, check Cernovich on Twitter)
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To: rdl6989

Most likely a night predator..........


12 posted on 08/09/2017 2:09:32 PM PDT by Red Badger (Road Rage lasts 5 minutes. Road Rash lasts 5 months!.....................)
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To: Bodleian_Girl

could be a Tasier............

13 posted on 08/09/2017 2:11:35 PM PDT by Red Badger (Road Rage lasts 5 minutes. Road Rash lasts 5 months!.....................)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

14 posted on 08/09/2017 2:12:21 PM PDT by Red Badger (Road Rage lasts 5 minutes. Road Rash lasts 5 months!.....................)
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To: Red Badger

It’s a friggin’ monkey head.


15 posted on 08/09/2017 2:13:04 PM PDT by Sacajaweau
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To: Red Badger

Send a copy of the report to all of the apes who forgot to get on the evolutionary train and therefor stayed apes.

OOA is a myth.


16 posted on 08/09/2017 2:13:56 PM PDT by Architect of Avalon
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To: Red Badger

He was in my Kindergarten class.


17 posted on 08/09/2017 2:14:30 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (You cannot invade the mainland US. There'd be a rifle behind every blade of grass.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

We all had one!.................


18 posted on 08/09/2017 2:16:45 PM PDT by Red Badger (Road Rage lasts 5 minutes. Road Rash lasts 5 months!.....................)
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To: Red Badger

You mean to say that they found Maxine Waters’ long lost cousin?!?!?!?


19 posted on 08/09/2017 2:18:43 PM PDT by Terry L Smith
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To: cgbg
You rang sir?


20 posted on 08/09/2017 2:25:27 PM PDT by rdl6989
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