New researcher suggests modern humans might have less in common with great apes than previously thought
According to CBS News, the fossil of a small “goggle eyed” primate was discovered by scientists in Barcelona, Spain, leading researchers to believe that the last common ancestor of all apes might have less in common with humans’ closest living relatives than had been previously thought.
A new study out of the Catalan Institute of Paleontology in Barcelona, Spain, suggests that the discovery of a newfound small-bodied ape species has shed new light on what the last common ancestor of apes and humans might have been like.
Scientists are intrigued by the fact that the newly discovered species has more in common with the world’s smallest living gibbons than it does with chimpanzees or gorillas.
The study stressed the difference between lesser apes and great apes. Great apes, such as gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans, are considered to be the closest living relatives of humans. Small-bodied, lesser apes, such as gibbons, are thought to have less in common with modern humans than the great apes.
However, the existence of the newly unearthed lesser ape fossil discovered in Spain implies the last common ancestor of modern humans might have more in common with lesser apes than had been previously thought. The fossil, which researchers date back to 11.6 million years ago, suggested that the small-bodied ape would have weighed between 8.8 and 11 lbs.
Named Pilobates catalonia, researchers suggest that the lesser ape dwelled in the trees, with limbs specialized for walking and hanging on the tops of branches. Its fossil was discovered in Catalonia, a province of Barcelona, where its fossil was excavated from a forrest with a warm and dense climate.
Its features are reminiscent of primitive primates dating back to before the split between modern humans and their closest monkey relatives. However, because of what researchers have dubbed their “goggle eyes”, it has more in common with the modern gibbon than it does with the great apes.