We learned that humans evolved from earlier primates in Africa and then spread around the world. But what about those earlier primates? Where did they originate?
Until about 20 years ago, the answer seemed obvious: Africa. That’s where the earliest fossil evidence was found, mainly from Egypt’s Fayum Depression. Starting in the 1990s, however, relevant fossils started popping up in Asia. Paleoanthropologists now consider a 45-million-year-old primate discovered in China, called Eosimias, to be the earliest anthropoid, the group of primates that includes monkeys, apes and humans. Eosimias was tiny, weighing less than half a pound. But it possessed certain dental and jaw characteristics that link it to living anthropoids.
The newly discovered species, named Afrasia dijijidae, dates to roughly 37 million years ago and was found in Myanmar. So far, all that’s known of Afrasia is based on four isolated teeth. But the nooks, crannies, crests and bumps on those teeth reveal a few things about where the ancestors of today’s monkeys and apes came from.
Find out more about this new, yet very old, ancestor at Hominid Hunting. Link
(Image credit: Nancy Perkins/Carnegie Museum of Natural History)