Two Ancient Apes Discovered

Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 13th, 2007


Above, one of the most famed of the ancient apes, Proconsul africanus (Dryopithecus).

A 10 million-year-old jawbone and teeth discovered in Kenya may represent a new species very close to the last common ancestor of gorillas, chimpanzees and humans, according to a study published in the U.S. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on November 12, 2007.

Researchers from the Primate Research Institute of the Kyoto University in Japan found the jawbone, along with 11 teeth in volcanic mud flow deposits in the Nakali region of Kenya, in 2005. The last time a hominoid fossil of this period was found in Kenya was 1982.

Fossils from this era are so rare that some researchers have proposed that the last common ancestor might have left Africa for Europe and Asia and then returned later. But the findings of the Japanese archaeologists indicate that the ancestor of African great apes and humans likely evolved entirely in Africa.

The new species, Nakalipithecus nakayamai, resembles the candidate formerly thought the closest to a common ancestor, Ouranopithecus macedoniensis, from Greece. However, several details of the dentition, which indicate a less specialized diet than Ouranopithecus, place Nakalipithecus in a genus of its own.

In addition to the new Kenyan species of ancient ape (Nakalipithecus nakayamai), evidence recently emerged of another ancient African ape. In August, a team of Japanese and Ethiopian paleontologists announced that they had uncovered 10-million year-old teeth fossils in Ethiopia’s Afar region in 2006 and 2007. The scientists said the teeth probably belonged to a “proto-gorilla” species which they named Chororapithecus abyssinicus.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

3 Responses to “Two Ancient Apes Discovered”

  1. bill green responds:

    this is a very interesting new article about 2 ancient apes discovered. thanks bill green

  2. Ceroill responds:

    Hmm. That’s a detail I had missed. I didn’t realize that Dryopithecus was the same as Proconsul.

  3. mystery_man responds:

    Interesting find, made even more so by the fact that researchers were from over in my neck of the woods, Japan. This certainly demonstrates that a lack of fossil evidence is not necessarily a highly compelling case against the existence of Bigfoot. Take a large enough area and add in the rarity of the fossilization process in general, and you will have a situation where you are far from having complete fossil records of all animals that have ever lived in a given area.

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