Fossil sheds light on early primates

Partial skeleton near root of monkey, ape and human line

12:55pm, June 5, 2013

The oldest known primate specimen, a 55-million-year-old partial skeleton of a 1-ounce creature, was analyzed using a digital 3-D reconstruction . 

A palm-sized creature sporting a tail longer than its body has given scientists an unprecedented look at one of the earliest phases of primate evolution.

An international team led by paleontologist Xijun Ni of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing analyzed this animal’s 55-million-year-old remains, the oldest known primate skeleton. Discovered 10 years ago along an ancient lake bed in central China, the fossil comes from a previously unknown genus and species, Archicebus achilles, the scientists report June 6 in Nature.

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