Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

African Origin Of Anthropoid Primates Called Into Question With New Fossil Discovery

Date:
September 17, 2009
Source:
CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange)
Summary:
Well-preserved craniodental fossil remains from two primate species have been discovered during excavations at an Algerian site. They reveal that the small primate Algeripithecus, which is 50 million years old and until now was considered as the most ancient African anthropoid, in fact belonged to another group, that of the crown strepsirhines.

Image of an Algeripithecus mandible, showing the scale of the specimen.
Credit: Copyright Rodolphe Tabuce, CNRS

Well-preserved craniodental fossil remains from two primate species have been discovered during excavations at an Algerian site. They reveal that the small primate Algeripithecus, which is 50 million years old and until now was considered as the most ancient African anthropoid, in fact belonged to another group, that of the crown strepsirhines.

Related Articles


This research was carried out by a team of French researchers from the Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution (Université de Montpellier/CNRS), working with Algerian paleontologists from the universities of Tlemcen, Oran and Jijel. The resulting publication, published online on the website of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B (Biological Sciences) on September 9, 2009, reopens the debate on the African origin of anthropoids, the group to which humans and apes belong.

In 1992, fossilized remains of the small primate Algeripithecus were discovered in the Algerian Sahara. Fifty million years old, weighing just 75 g and known to paleontologists thanks to the remains of two molars, this primate was considered to be the most ancient anthropoid of the African continent. The discovery of Algeripithecus was thus a major contribution to the hypothesis under which Africa was the cradle of anthropoid primates, a group to which humans and apes all belong. The existence of another primate, the Azibius, has been known for longer. This is one of the most ancient African representatives of the crown strepsirhines, another primate group that today is represented by the lemurs of Madagascar, the galagos of Central Africa and the loris of Southern Asia.

At the Glib Zegdou site in north-eastern Algeria, a French team from the Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution in Montpellier (Université de Montpellier/CNRS), working in collaboration with Algerian scientists, recently exhumed cranial and dental fragments from both Algeripithecus and Azibius. They included some nearly complete mandibles. These remains displayed a certain number of traits typical of the crown strepsirhines, notably an adaptation to nocturnal activity and the putative presence of a "toothcomb" [1] in the lower toothrow. The paleontologists concluded that Algeripithecus, like its close relative Azibius, did not in fact belong to the family of anthropoid primates but was very probably one of the most ancient representatives in Africa of the crown strepsirhines.

In Egypt, the presence of more than a dozen fossilized anthropoid primates dating from 30 to 38 million years ago had long been known. This recent Franco-Algerian discovery thus advances the first true appearance of anthropoid primates on the African continent by more than 15 million years. With its major consequences on the evolutionary history of African anthropoid primates, this observation further strengthens the alternative hypothesis of an Asiatic origin for anthropoids. Furthermore, this paleontologic research reveals a hitherto unsuspected diversity and great antiquity of the first crown strepsirhines in Africa.

(1) Situated at the front of the teeth, the toothcomb is made up of modified canines and incisors, set more horizontally. It serves for the collection of food, the removal of nits and grooming of the coat.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Tabuce R, Marivaux L, Lebrun R, Adaci M, Bensalah M, Fabre P-H, Fara E, Gomes-Rodrigues H, Hautier L, Jaeger J-J et al. Anthropoid vs. strepsirhine status of the African Eocene primates Algeripithecus and Azibius: craniodental evidence. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Published online before print September 9, 2009 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2009.1339

Cite This Page:

CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange). "African Origin Of Anthropoid Primates Called Into Question With New Fossil Discovery." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090915101355.htm>.
CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange). (2009, September 17). African Origin Of Anthropoid Primates Called Into Question With New Fossil Discovery. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090915101355.htm
CNRS (Délégation Paris Michel-Ange). "African Origin Of Anthropoid Primates Called Into Question With New Fossil Discovery." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090915101355.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Oldest Bone Ever Sequenced Shows Human/Neanderthal Mating

Oldest Bone Ever Sequenced Shows Human/Neanderthal Mating

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) — A 45,000-year-old thighbone is showing when humans and neanderthals may have first interbred and revealing details about our origins. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weird-Looking Dinosaur Solves 50-Year-Old Mystery

Weird-Looking Dinosaur Solves 50-Year-Old Mystery

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) — You've probably seen some weird-looking dinosaurs, but have you ever seen one this weird? It's worth a look. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goofy Dinosaur Blends Barney and Jar Jar Binks

Goofy Dinosaur Blends Barney and Jar Jar Binks

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) — A collection of dinosaur bones reveal a creature that is far more weird and goofy-looking than scientists originally thought when they found just the arm bones nearly 50 years ago, according to a new report in the journal Nature. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sunken WWII U-Boat That Fired On U.S. Convoy Found

Sunken WWII U-Boat That Fired On U.S. Convoy Found

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) — U-576, a long-lost German U-boat the U.S. sank in 1942, has been found just 30 miles off North Carolina's coast and near the wreckage of another ship. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins