Palaeontological evidence for an Oligocene divergence between Old World monkeys and apes

Stevens, Nancy J., Seiffert, Erik R., O'Connor, Patrick M., Roberts, Eric M., Schmitz, Mark D., Krause, Cornelia, Gorscak, Eric, Ngasala, Sifa, Hieronymus, Tobin L., and Temu, Joseph (2013) Palaeontological evidence for an Oligocene divergence between Old World monkeys and apes. Nature, 497 (7451). pp. 611-614.

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View at Publisher Website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature12161
 
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Abstract

Apes and Old World monkeys are prominent components of modern African and Asian ecosystems, yet the earliest phases of their evolutionary history have remained largely undocumented(1). The absence of crown catarrhine fossils older than similar to 20 million years (Myr) has stood in stark contrast to molecular divergence estimates of similar to 25-30 Myr for the split between Cercopithecoidea (Old World monkeys) and Hominoidea (apes), implying long ghost lineages for both clades(2-4). Here we describe the oldest known fossil 'ape', represented by a partial mandible preserving dental features that place it with 'nyanzapithecine' stem hominoids. Additionally, we report the oldest stem member of the Old World monkey clade, represented by a lower third molar. Both specimens were recovered from a precisely dated 25.2-Myr-old stratum in the Rukwa Rift, a segment of the western branch of the East African Rift in Tanzania. These finds extend the fossil record of apes and Old World monkey swell into the Oligocene epoch of Africa, suggesting a possible link between diversification of crown catarrhines and changes in the African landscape brought about by previously unrecognized tectonic activity(5) in the East African rift system.

Item ID: 28740
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1476-4687
Keywords: palaeontology, biological anthropology
Funders: US National Science Foundation, National Geographic Society, Louis B. Leakey Foundation, Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, Ohio University Office of Research and Sponsored Programs
Projects and Grants: EAR-0617561, EAR/IF-0933619, BCS-1127164
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2013 05:38
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040308 Palaeontology (incl Palynology) @ 50%
04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040310 Sedimentology @ 25%
04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040303 Geochronology @ 25%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970104 Expanding Knowledge in the Earth Sciences @ 100%
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