Thursday, 20 August 2015

Earliest baboon found at Malapa


August 19, 2015

A team from Wits University's Evolutionary Studies Institute has discovered a fossil monkey specimen representing the earliest baboon ever found.

Dating back more than 2 million years ago (between 2.026-2.36 million years ago), the partial skull was found at Malapa, in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, the same site where the partial skeletons of the new early hominin species, Australopithecus sediba, were discovered in 2010.

"Baboons are known to have co-existed with hominins at several fossil localities in East Africa and South Africa and they are sometimes even used as comparative models in human evolution," says Dr Christopher Gilbert (Hunter College, CUNY), lead author of the study.

The skull, found during excavations for A. sediba, confirms earlier suggestions that the fossil baboon species to which it belongs, Papio angusticeps, was in fact closely related to modern baboons, and quite possibly the earliest known members of the modern baboon species Papio hamadryas.



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