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New Hominid Found In Spain-ScienceDaily

PostPosted: June 2nd, 2009, 8:00 pm
by wolfhnd
New Hominid 12 Million Years Old Found In Spain, With 'Modern' Facial Features

ScienceDaily (June 2, 2009) — Researchers have discovered a fossilized face and jaw from a previously unknown hominoid primate genus in Spain dating to the Middle Miocene era, roughly 12 million years ago. Nicknamed "Lluc," the male bears a strikingly "modern" facial appearance with a flat face, rather than a protruding one. The finding sheds important new light on the evolutionary development of hominids, including orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and humans. ... 083729.htm

As this is likely to be hot news item I have added some additional comments from experts.

some alternative phylogenetic and functional interpretations based on the data they present.

We interpret these results as strong evidence that Pierolapithecus is a basal hominine, although its position as a member of the Dryopithecus clade is only weakly supported. As a hominine, the morphology of Pierolapithecus reinforces the hypothesis that a number of postcranial similarities of orangutans and African apes may be homoplasies ... /5719/203c

The authors take a leap of faith here arguing that when one takes into account that these two genera cannot be considered members of the family Hominidae yet, because they lack its basic diagnostic features, they find it obvious that the origin of our family is a phenomenon that took place on the Mediterranean region during the time span comprised between their arrival from Africa by about 15 Ma, and about 13 Ma, when we began to find in els Hostalets the first members of our family.

the fossil evidence, both the presence of more hominid-like Miocene hominoids in Europe, and the absence of any likely fossil candidates from Africa. If we did not evolve (at this temporal point) in Africa, then the next logical place to look is Europe. It is also supported by molecular evidence, surprisingly enough. Caro-Beth Stewart and Todd Disotell have developed a phylogenetic tree based on DNA sequence, fossil evidence, and a molecular clock. Their molecular clock supports the scenario that the “missing link” was an unknown ape from Europe or Asia that dispersed into Africa about 10 million years ago (Gibbons 1998:622).

Could this ancestor be Dryopithecus or Ouranopithecus? The answer is still unclear and there is much ongoing debate over this issue. Though the missing link status may not be applicable to these hominoids as of yet, it is still reasonable to include them in the great ape and human clade. The Synapomorphies they possess with Australopithecus, Homo, and the extant African apes is certainly suggestive that if one of these groups is not the missing link, then it must be a sister group of Ouranopithecus and Dryopithecus. As with all unanswered questions in the field of paleontology, the thing that is needed to provide more answers is more fossils.