facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Scientists say fossil from China is oldest primate skeleton yet found

June 5, 2013 at 7:03 PM   |   Comments

PITTSBURGH, June 5 (UPI) -- The world's oldest known fossil primate skeleton, a previously unknown genus, was unearthed from an ancient lakebed in central China, paleontologists say.

The journal Nature reports the new fossil provides insights into a pivotal event in primate and human evolution, the evolutionary divergence between the lineage leading to modern monkeys, apes and humans on the one hand and that leading to living tarsiers on the other.

"It represents a big step forward in our efforts to chart the course of the earliest phases of primate and human evolution," said Xijun Ni of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

The tiny skeleton of Archicebus Achilles, representing both a new genus and new species, is about 7 million years older than the oldest fossil primate skeletons known previously, researchers said.

"Archicebus differs radically from any other primate, living or fossil, known to science," Christopher Beard of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh said. "It looks like an odd hybrid with the feet of a small monkey, the arms, legs and teeth of a very primitive primate, and a primitive skull bearing surprisingly small eyes. It will force us to rewrite how the anthropoid lineage evolved."

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Most Popular
1
Massive sunspot sending violent flares toward Earth Massive sunspot sending violent flares toward Earth
2
Google exec breaks skydive record with dive from near-space Google exec breaks skydive record with dive from near-space
3
Powerful new microscope sees cell division in real time Powerful new microscope sees cell division in real time
4
Stone tools reveal Ice Age settlement in the Andes Stone tools reveal Ice Age settlement in the Andes
5
Coal-rich Poland wants concessions in EU climate deal Coal-rich Poland wants concessions in EU climate deal
Trending News
Around the Web
x
Feedback