Saturday, January 14, 2012

Geologically Recent Ape in Europe

Deutsche Welle world has an interesting story about dental remains that have been discovered in Europe that put Miocene apes in the region as recently as 7 million years ago. According to the story:
"The latest data have shown that contrary to the hominids in Western and Central Europe (with the exception of the insular Oreopithecus), hominids from the Eastern Mediterranean may have lived up to 8 to 7.5 [million years ago], preadapted to the more open biotopes of the Balkan-Iranian zoographic province," the team wrote.
What is important to note about this story (and it threw me for a minute) is that the author is using the newer phylogenetic systematics-driven definition of “hominid.” In this scheme, “hominids” are now at the family level and include us and all of the great apes and “hominins” (us and our ancestors) are at the sub-family level.

A problem, voiced by one of the excavators, is, of course, that it is just one tooth, so we cannot say too much about it. Still, it is interesting if it bears up.

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