Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Dr. Sergio Almécija, and a team of researchers from GW have partnered with the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont to publish evidence in Science Magazine of a new genus and species of ape that is an unlikely ancestor of both apes and humans. (source)
According to Science News, the partial skeleton of an 11.6-million-year-old primitive ape, dubbed Pliobates cataloniae and found near Barcelona, Spain, may force scientists to re-imagine the ancestor of all living apes and humans. With a muzzle like a gibbon but a large brain for its body size, the ancient primate has traits that link it to all apes and humans—yet it weighed only 4 kg to 5 kg.
“This is the first small ape in the fossil record that shows clear features present in all living apes,” says Almécija. “Before this discovery, we had assumed that the living small apes, the gibbons and siamangs, had evolved from larger apes of a size similar to that of a chimpanzee,”
Almécija said he was invited to analyze the fossilized remains by IPC back in 2011, when they were discovered during the construction of a landfill near Barcelona. He said he and his teammates were “stunned” to find a number of similarities between the new species and living apes.
“All scholars in the field of anthropology will start paying more attention to the small primates that lived alongside larger fossil apes in the past,” Almécija said. “Some of them could be also small apes. They just look slightly different that what we would expect, that’s why it’s difficult to identify them for what they are.” (source)