Sunday 14 February 2016

Fossil reveals humans, gorillas split two to three million years earlier than thought

FEBRUARY 12, 2016

by Brett Smith

A lack of fossil evidence has prevented scientists from determining exactly when we humans split off from our primate cousins, but newly discovered remains shed new light on the question.

According to a new report in the journal Nature, an analysis of eight million-year-old fossilized gorilla teeth has indicated humans split from gorillas around 10 million years ago, which is two to three million years earlier than previously thought.

Past research has revealed that humans and great apes share a common lineage, inspiring archeologists and others to locate evidence of when breaks took place from gorillas and later chimps, our closest primate relative. Genetic information has indicated that humans broke from chimps as recently as five million years ago and with gorillas about seven to eight million years ago.

Gorillas in the midst
In 2007, a team of scientists discovered nine ancient gorilla teeth fossils in a geological formation in Ethiopia. An extinct species of primate was identified based on the fossils and given the name Chororapithecus abyssinicus.

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