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8 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 7 November, 2019 11:23:41 PM
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Standing tall

Scientists find oldest example of upright ape

AP, Berlin
Scientists find oldest example of upright ape
A man holds bones of the previously unknown primate species Danuvius guggenmosi in his hand in Tuebingen, Oct 17. Palaeontologists have discovered fossils in southern Germany that shed new light on the development of the upright corridor. AP Photo

The remains of an ancient ape found in a Bavarian clay pit suggest that humans’ ancestors began standing upright millions of years earlier than previously thought, scientists said Wednesday. An international team of researchers says the fossilized partial skeleton of a male ape that lived almost 12 million years ago in the humid forests of what is now southern Germany bears a striking resemblance to modern human bones. In a paper published by the journal Nature, they concluded that the previously unknown species — named Danuvius guggenmosi — could walk on two legs but also climb like an ape.

The findings “raise fundamental questions about our previous understanding of the evolution of the great apes and humans,” said Madelaine Boehme of the University of Tuebingen, Germany, who led the research.

The question of when apes evolved bipedal motion has fascinated scientists since Charles Darwin first argued that they were the ancestors of humans. Previous fossil records of apes with an upright gait — found in Crete and Kenya — dated only as far back as 6 million years ago.

Boehme, along with researchers from Bulgaria, Germany, Canada and the United States, examined more than 15,000 bones

recovered from a trove of archaeological remains known as the Hammerschmiede, or Hammer Smithy, about 70 kilometers (44 miles) west of the Germany city of Munich.

Among the remains they were able to piece together were primate fossils belonging to four individuals that lived 11.62 million years ago. The most complete, an adult male, likely stood about 1 meter (3 feet, 4 inches) tall, weighed 31 kilograms (68 pounds) and looked similar to modern-day bonobos, a species of chimpanzee.

“It was astonishing for us to realize how similar certain bones are to humans, as opposed to great apes,” Boehme said. Thanks to several well-preserved vertebra, limb, finger and toe bones, the scientists were able to reconstruct how Danuvius moved, concluding that while it would have been able to hang from branches by his arms, it could also straighten its legs to walk upright.

“This changes our view of early human evolution, which is that it all happened in Africa,” Boehme told The Associated Press in an interview.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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