Last common ancestor of gorillas, chimpanzees and humans found in Kenya?

November 14th, 2007 - 10:38 am ICT by admin  

According to a new study, the fossilised ape called Nakalipithecus nakayamai, the ape lived during the Late Miocene 11 to 5 million years ago.

Lead author and Kyoto University primate researcher Yutaka Kunimatsu told Discovery News that molecular studies of living apes indicate gorillas, chimps and humans diverged from each other in Africa.

The fossilised remains were found in the Samburu Hills of northern Kenya, and include a jawbone and 11 telltale teeth.

Other studies suggest the landscape of northern Kenya at the time would have consisted of woodlands with some open patches.

Martin Pickford, a paleontologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, believes the latest finds are extremely significant.

“I can’t overstress the importance of these fossils from the Late Miocene of Kenya. They are just what the doctor ordered for those of us interested in the divergence between the African apes and humans,” Pickford was quoted, as saying.

While scientists continue to debate which ape may have been the actual “mother” of all living great apes, including humans, Africa now appears to have been its homeland, with related lineages that sprung up in Ethiopia, Greece and Turkey.

The findings were published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (ANI)

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