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Fossilized ape discovered in Ramnagar2 min read

September 14, 2020 2 min read


Fossilized ape discovered in Ramnagar2 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes
New fossil ape is discovered in India
Field site in Ramnagar, India. Credit: Christopher Gilbert

A 13-million-year-old fossil unearthed in Ramnagar, UP is of a newly-discovered species of ape, the earliest known ancestor of the modern-day gibbon. The discovery, by Christopher C. Gilbert, Chris Campisano, Biren Patel, Rajeev Patnaik, and Premjit Singh, fills a major void in the ape fossil record and provides new evidence about when the ancient apes migrated to Asia from Africa.

The team’s find was a pleasant accident. Gilbert and team members were climbing a small hill in an area where a fossil primate jaw had been found the year before. While taking a break, Gilbert spotted something shiny in a small pile of dirt on the ground, so he dug it out and quickly realized he’d found something special.

The fossil, a complete lower molar, belongs to Kapi ramnagarensis and represents the first new fossil ape species discovered at the famous fossil site of Ramnagar, UP in nearly a century.

New fossil ape is discovered in India
Map illustrating the location of Kapi (black star) relative to modern (dark green) and historical (light green) populations of lesser apes and the approximate distribution of early fossil apes in East Africa (blue triangles). Green triangles mark the location of previously discovered fossil gibbons. The hanging apes trace their journey from Africa to Asia. Photo: Luci Betti-Nash.

Since the fossil’s discovery in 2015, many years of study and research went into identifying its species and where it belonged in the primate family tree.

Fun Facts about Gibbons:
1. Gibbons are not Monkeys. They are lesser-known apes
2. Gibbons mostly move by swinging from branches
3. Gibbons communicate by singing

Now for some questions
1. What is a fossil and how are they made?
2. How do you determine how old a fossil is?