Human evolution; new fossil foretells the human future (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Thursday, November 07, 2019, 01:00 (147 days ago) @ David Turell

A newly described European fossil is part ape, part humanoid and is over eleven million year old. It has some non-ape upright posture, with more ape-like arms:

"Danuvius guggenmosi, a “totally new and different” species of ape, would have moved through the trees using its forelimbs and hindlimbs equally.


"Böhme and colleagues determined that the bones they found came from a dryopithecine ape, an extinct ancestor of humans and great apes that once lived in the Miocene epoch. The fossils are approximately 11.6 million years old and came from at least four individual apes, including one partial skeleton. The team described the newfound ancestor, named Danuvius guggenmosi,

"D. guggenmosi was likely a small primate about the size of baboon, with long arms like a bonobo. The creature had flexible elbows and strong hands capable of grasping, which suggests that it could have swung from tree to tree like a modern great ape. But the similarities with known apes stop there. The animal’s lower limbs have much more in common with human anatomy.

" With extended hips and knees, D. guggenmosi was capable of standing with a straighter posture than that of living African apes, and its knees and ankles were adapted to bear weight. The animal’s locomotion would have therefore shared similarities with both human and ape movement, and D. guggenmosi may have been able to navigate the forest by swinging from tree limbs and walking on two legs.

“'There is no reason to think it would not have used all four limbs when that made sense, for example, on smaller branches where balance was an issue,” Begun says. “But it was also capable of both chimp-like suspension and unassisted bipedalism.”

"D. guggenmosi puts bipedality on the evolutionary timeline far earlier than scientists previously expected. Jeremy DeSilva, a paleoanthropologist who reviewed the study for Nature, says while this discovery sheds some light on how hominids began to walk on two feet, it also raises new questions about the evolution of locomotion. Rather than humans evolving to become bipedal after splitting from a quadruped ancestor, the great apes must have evolved from a creature with bipedal capabilities. (my bold)

“'Given what we know about the relationships between humans and the African great apes, then gorillas and chimpanzees would have had to have independently evolved knuckle-walking. That would have happened twice,” DeSilva says. “That is unsettling. It's disruptive to what we once thought.”

Böhme says it is also worth noting that D. guggenmosi was found in Europe, far from where most people imagine ancient apes lived. The narrative of human evolution is typically set on the African stage, but before early humans evolved, some of their primate relatives were living in forests that stretched across the Mediterranean. “We have to keep in mind that a big part of human history or human early evolution was not an African story,” Böhme says. ( my bold)

More commentary:

"How humans came to walk on two legs is central to these debates, she adds, and several ideas have been put forward over the past 150 years.

"These include notions that bipedal humans evolved from tree-dwelling, monkey-like apes that moved on all fours, from tree-swinging apes similar to orangutans, or from knuckle-walking apes like chimpanzees and gorillas.

"Fossil evidence to support these theoretical models has so far been weak, and the new fossils from the mid to late Miocene, discovered in the Allgäu region of Bavaria in Germany, suggest that none is correct. (my bold)

"The researchers excavated more than 15,000 fossil vertebrate bones from the ancient humid, forested ecosystems that characterised Germany at that time. These included the remains of at least four individual hominids: one male, two females and one juvenile.


“'Importantly, for the first time, we were able to investigate several functionally important joints, including the elbow, wrist, hip, knee and ankle, in a single fossil of this age,” Böhme says.

“'And it was astonishing for us to realise how similar certain bones are to humans, as opposed to great apes.” (my bold)


“'Given that all living apes use bipedalism to some degree – often in the trees, but also on the ground – it is not unreasonable to suggest that bipedalism evolved much earlier in hominoid evolution than we previously thought."

Comment: Tell me this is not an advance change well before bipedalism was really needed. Gone is the theory that savanna appearance forced the change.

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