Saturday, September 7, 2013

Juvenile ape cranium from Miocene of China

Credit: Xue-Ping Ji, Yunnan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology

A team of researchers working at Shuitangba, a site in the Miocene of China, just announced a pretty awesome juvenile cranium of the Miocene ape genus Lufengpithecus.  This skull is important because of its relatively young age (about 6 million years), and because it doesn't closely resemble orangutans. Many researchers have considered Lufengpithecus to be closely related to modern orangutans, but if true, then Lufengpithecus should bear a striking resemblance to modern orangs by 6 million years ago. The authors argue that this isn't the case, and that Lufengpithecus doesn't appear similar to any modern apes.  Very cool fossil!

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