Species Added to the Root of Hominoid Family Tree

A recently discovered 11.6 million-year-old primate has been added to the root of the hominoid family tree.

BARCELONA, SPAIN—Fossils from the site of Abocador Can Mata in Catalonia have been identified as a new genus and species, Pliobates cataloniae, by scientists from the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP). Dubbed “Laia,” this small adult female primate lived some 11.6 million years ago, before hominids and hylobatids, or gibbons, split from a last common ancestor, and shares features with living hominoids. “The origins of gibbons is a mystery because of the lack of fossil record, but until now most scientists thought that their last common ancestor with hominids must have been large, because all of the undoubted fossil hominoids found so far were large-bodied,” ICP researcher David M. Alba said in a press release. “This find overturns everything,” he said. Pliobates suggests that the last common ancestor of all living humans and apes might have been more similar to living gibbons than to the great apes than previously thought. In fact, some of Laia’s features are exclusive to extant gibbons. “This suggests that, alternately, Pliobates might be the sister group of extant gibbons only,” added Salvadore Moyà-Solà, ICREA researcher and director of the ICP. To read about another recently discovered species, go to "Ardipithecus: Ape or Ancestor?"

From: http://archaeology.org/news/3842-151030-fossils-pliobates-cataloniae 
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