Fossil finds may explain why humans evolved in Africa, not Asia
KU News Service/Univ. of Kansas
Fossil discoveries in southern China point to an evolutionary crossroads around 34 million years ago that resulted in humans evolving in Africa rather than Asia, scientists say.
A sharply cooler and drier climate at that time, combined with upheavals of landmasses that forged the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau, destroyed many tropical forests in Asia. That sent surviving primates scurrying south, say paleontologist Xijun Ni of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and his colleagues. New Chinese finds provide the first fossil evidence that the forerunners of monkeys, apes and humans, also known as anthropoids, were then largely replaced in Asia by creatures related to modern lemurs, lorises and tarsiers, the researchers conclude in the May 6 Science.
Ni’s team regards Asia as the evolutionary launching pad for primates, including anthropoids. But considerable debate and