A stray molar is the oldest recognized fossil from an historic gibbon

Whereas looking for primate fossils in northern India, paleontologist Christopher Gilbert observed one thing small and glossy poking out of the filth. It turned out to be a roughly 13-million-year-old molar from a small-bodied ape associated to trendy gibbons.

The tooth is the oldest recognized fossil from a gibbon ancestor, says Gilbert, of Hunter School on the Metropolis College of New York. He and colleagues assigned the fossil, which was eroding out of beforehand dated sediment at a web site referred to as Ramnagar, to a brand new genus and species, Kapi ramnagarensis.

This roughly 13-million-year-old molar tooth (proven from above) was present in India and is the oldest recognized fossil from a gibbon ancestor.C. Gilbert

Till now, the oldest stays of an historic gibbon species consisted of a small variety of tooth present in China, which date from round 7 million to 9 million years in the past. Presumably older fossils of a gibbonlike creature are controversial (SN: 10/29/15). Genetic research of residing primates have instructed that gibbon ancestors emerged by no less than 20 million years in the past in Africa.

After discovering the Ramnagar molar in 2015, Gilbert’s group in contrast it with corresponding tooth of residing and extinct apes and monkeys. Options together with low, rounded cusps on the perimeters of the chewing floor hyperlink the traditional tooth to trendy gibbons and the gibbon predecessor in China, the scientists report September 9 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Ok. ramnagarensis comes from deposits that beforehand yielded fossils of an orangutan ancestor, suggesting to Gilbert that each apes reached South Asia from Africa across the identical time. “We’re catching a window into that occasion” as small-bodied gibbons and large-bodied orangutans headed to their current and present residence ranges in East and Southeast Asia, he says.

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