A New African Miocene Ape: Nakalipithecus nakayamai

In August, 2007 Gen Suwa and crew reported on a new Ethiopian Miocene Ape, Chororapithecus abyssinicus. And today, Kenyan and Japanese paleoanthropologists have published their study of a fragment of a mandible and 11 teeth, dating back to between 9.8 and 9.88 million years, which was found 2005.

The fossils were unearthed in volcanic mud flow deposits in the northern Nakali region of Kenya. It has been dutifully dubbed Nakalipithecus nakayamai, the genus assigned after the area it was found in while the species is named after Japanese geologist Katsuhiro Nakayama who died while working on the project. Comparisons of the size of the teeth of N. nakayamai shows that it was comparable to a modern female gorilla and a female orangutan. It also resembles another Miocene ape Ouranopithecus macedoniensis, from Greece but several aspects of the dentition indicate a less specialized diet than Ouranopithecus, and place Nakalipithecus in a genus of its own.

I’ll report more on this when I get my hands on the paper.

Nakalipithecus nakayamai

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