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New infant cranium from the African Miocene sheds light on ape evolution

Nengo, I; Tafforeau, P; Gilbert, CC; Fleagle, JG; Miller, ER; Feibel, C; Fox, DL; ... Spoor, F; + view all (2017) New infant cranium from the African Miocene sheds light on ape evolution. Nature , 548 (7666) pp. 169-174. 10.1038/nature23456. Green open access

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Abstract

The evolutionary history of extant hominoids (humans and apes) remains poorly understood. The African fossil record during the crucial time period, the Miocene epoch, largely comprises isolated jaws and teeth, and little is known about ape cranial evolution. Here we report on the, to our knowledge, most complete fossil ape cranium yet described, recovered from the 13 million-year-old Middle Miocene site of Napudet, Kenya. The infant specimen, KNM-NP 59050, is assigned to a new species of Nyanzapithecus on the basis of its unerupted permanent teeth, visualized by synchrotron imaging. Its ear canal has a fully ossified tubular ectotympanic, a derived feature linking the species with crown catarrhines. Although it resembles some hylobatids in aspects of its morphology and dental development, it possesses no definitive hylobatid synapomorphies. The combined evidence suggests that nyanzapithecines were stem hominoids close to the origin of extant apes, and that hylobatid-like facial features evolved multiple times during catarrhine evolution.

Type: Article
Title: New infant cranium from the African Miocene sheds light on ape evolution
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/nature23456
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature23456
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Biological anthropology, Palaeontology, Phylogenetics, Taxonomy
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1570349
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