Thursday, November 18, 2004

Fossil Ape May Be Ancestor of All Apes



In Spain scientists have discovered 13-million-year-old fossils of new species of ape. The species may have been the last common ancestor of humans and all great apes living today.

The great apes—which later gave rise to humans and which now include orangutans, chimpanzees, and gorillas—are thought to have diverged from the lesser apes about 11 to 16 million years ago. Today's lesser apes include the gibbons.

The new species was christened Pierolapithecus catalaunicus, after the village, Els Hostalets de Pierola, and region, Catalonia, where it was found. Like great apes and humans, Pierolapithecus catalaunicus, had a stiff lower spine and other special adaptations for climbing trees.

Story here.

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