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Fossil Face Shows Ancient Ancestor

  • 17-07-2010 12:53pm
    Registered Users Posts: 30,746 ✭✭✭✭ Galvasean

    Saadanius hijazensis, which lived nearly 30 million years ago, is believed to be a possible common ancestor of apes (including humans) and monkeys. Now a wonderful discovery in Saudi Arabia literally reveals the face of this creature.
    "I knew right away what it was, and I was thrilled," said Gingerich, who is the Ermine Cowles Case Collegiate Professor of Paleontology and director of the U-M Museum of Paleontology. As a student, Gingerich had worked with paleontologist Elwyn Simons, who studied Aegyptopithecus, a primitive catarrhine from the early Oligocene. "Here was something very much like it looking up at me," Gingerich said.

    Yahya Al-Mufarreh, head of the paleontology unit at SGS, also was elated. "On the day of the discovery, we could not believe what we had," he said. "We were so lucky and happy to have an experienced paleontologist from Michigan who explained the discovery on site. This discovery is a critical step in paleontology along the Red Sea. It will answer many questions about the age, environment and paleogeographical context of the Oligocene Shumaysi Formation in western Saudi Arabia."

    Zalmout had to leave the skull where he found it---he had a schedule to adhere to, and he knew that properly collecting the primate fossil would take days. For the next few days he couldn't stop thinking about the fossil, worried that a wandering camel or goat would trample it before he could return. Eventually, he was able to excavate the site and bring the fossil to U-M for preparation and study.

    Full article here. (includes video)



  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 7,225 ✭✭✭ Yitzhak Rabin

    Haven't seen this posted here yet, but there has been a recent discovery of a fossil which could be one of the common ancestors between Old World monkeys and the great apes.
    A fossilised, battle-scarred skull belonging to a previously unknown species of primate has been unearthed that sheds light on the evolutionary origins of apes, including humans.

    The creature was no bigger than a baboon and lived in the canopy of a warm, damp forest near what is now the Red Sea in western Saudi Arabia, between 28m and 29m years ago.

    The remains, which include a partial skull and teeth, were recovered from ironstone sediment during an expedition to the site in February 2009, but only now has a detailed description of the fossil been published.

    The discovery, reported in Nature, is being hailed as one of the most significant finds in decades because it illuminates a critical moment in evolution when ancient primates split into two separate lineages


    I'm surprised I hadn't heard anything about it, as it seems to me to be a huge discovery. Although I suppose thats a good thing after the poor reporting when it came to Ida.

    For those who have a subscription to Nature, you can find the original study here

    Anyone a bit more qualified than me want to shed some light on the find?

  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 7,225 ✭✭✭ Yitzhak Rabin

    Ah! Don't know how I missed the original thread! :o