Fossils of a new species of ape have cast doubt on the theory that all humans originated in Africa

Dmytro IvancheskulLife
Ape skull parts found in Turkey hint that human evolution took place in Europe. Source: Sevim-Erol, A., Begun, D.R., Sözer, Ç.S et al/Getty/colage OBOZREVATEL

The ancestors of humans and African apes probably evolved in Europe and then migrated to Africa between 9 and 7 million years ago. This is hinted at by the remains of a recently discovered ape, named Anadoluvius turkae.

This is according to a study published in the scientific journal Communications Biology. The new find calls into question the theory about the African origin of all humans.

Well-preserved parts of the ape's skull were found in 2015 in Turkey during the excavation of fossils dating back 8.7 million years. Analysis of the fossils showed that A. turkae would have been the size of a large male chimpanzee, or an average female gorilla.

The researchers attributed the ape to early hominids, which include chimpanzees, gorillas and bonobos, among others.

According to scientists, this monkey may be evidence that the ancestors of African apes and humans were in Europe before they were in Africa. At the same time, the oldest known humans have been found specifically in Africa.

"Our findings suggest that hominids not only evolved in western and central Europe, but spent more than 5 million years there, spreading into the eastern Mediterranean before eventually settling in Africa," Prof. David Begun of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Toronto told the paper.

He suggests that the migration to Africa was due to environmental change and a decline in forests.

The professor added that members of this group, to which A. turkae belongs, "are currently only identified in Europe and Anatolia (the Asian part of Turkey)."

Scientists hypothesize that this species of monkey existed in Europe along with other animals similar to the large animals now living in Africa. About 8 million years ago, they all migrated to Africa.

Prof. Ayla Sevim Erol of Ankara University said, according to the analysis of jaws and teeth found, as well as animals found nearby, A. turkae probably lived "in relatively open conditions, unlike the forest habitat of great apes" .

"It most likely resembled what we believe the habitat of early humans in Africa was like. Powerful jaws and large teeth with a thick layer of enamel indicate that the diet included hard or tough foods from terrestrial sources such as roots and rhizomes," Erol explained.

As the scientists note, there is also the possibility that the ancestors of the apes came from Africa to Europe even earlier, although there is not much evidence for this.


Earlier OBOZREVATEL told about the fact that in China discovered the skull of previously unknown species of man.

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