Infant ape’s tiny skull could have a big impact on ape evolution | Science News

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Infant ape’s tiny skull could have a big impact on ape evolution

Rare 13-million-year-old fossil represents a new species

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1:00pm, August 9, 2017
infant ape skull

APE CHILD  An infant ape’s nearly complete skull, found in Kenya, dates to about 13 million years ago. Researchers suspect the youngster represents an ape group close to the origin of living apes and humans.

A 13-million-year-old infant’s skull, discovered in Africa in 2014, comes from a new species of ape that may not be far removed from the common ancestor of living apes and humans.

The tiny find, about the size of a lemon, is one of the most complete skulls known of any extinct ape that inhabited Africa, Asia or Europe between 25 million and 5 million years ago, researchers report in the Aug. 10 Nature. The fossil provides the most detailed look to date at a member of a line of African primates that are now candidates for central players in the evolution of present-day apes and humans. 

Most fossils from more than 40 known extinct ape species amount to no more than jaw fragments or a few isolated teeth. A local fossil hunter spotted the nearly complete skull in rock layers located near Kenya’s Lake Turkana. Members of a team led by paleoanthropologist Isaiah Nengo estimated the

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