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Els Hostalets de Pierola, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Els Hostalets de Pierola, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

By way of Afarensis is news of a new Middle Miocene hominoid species found from the Abocador de Can Mata site in Spain. It is classified as a great ape with many afropithecid and several kenyapithecine features which I’ll give an overview of in a bit. Furthermore, the specimen, IPS43000, is 11.9 million years old, dated via magnetostratigraphic series and associated fauna from the strata it was recovered in.

The authors have published the paper in the journal PNAS under the title, “A unique Middle Miocene European hominoid and the origins of the great ape and human clade.”

What’s unique about this hominoid, aptly named Lluc or enlightenment in Latin, is that it has a very modern face… In other words it’s got a reduced facial prognathism. The specimen includes a fragmented cranium that with most of the face preserved and the associated mandible. While the muzzle of Lluc is so reduced that only find comparable values within the genus Homo, Lluc’s got an array of primitive features, such as super thick dental enamel and teeth with bulbar cusps. The mandible is also very robust. All of which are characteristics of afropithecids — primitive hominoids from the African Middle Miocene.

Anoiapithecus brevirostris (IPS43000)

Anoiapithecus brevirostris (IPS43000)

But other more derived features, like the forward positioning of the zygomatic bone and a bold mandibular torus along with a a reduction in the maxillary sinus, are shared only with the kenyapithecines. Kenyapithecines are a group of apes that ever dispersed outside the African continent and colonized the Mediterranean region, by about 15 million years ago, and are collectively grouped in the genera Kenyapithecus and Griphopithecus.

Ultimately, you can see how this specimen (IPS43000), Anoiapithecus brevirostris, has a combined a set of features that until now had never been found from the fossil record. The array of features allows us enables to identify two possibilities to be the ancestral form to our family (Kenyapithecus and Griphopithecus). 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.

    Moya-Sola, S., Alba, D., Almecija, S., Casanovas-Vilar, I., Kohler, M., De Esteban-Trivigno, S., Robles, J., Galindo, J., & Fortuny, J. (2009). A unique Middle Miocene European hominoid and the origins of the great ape and human clade Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0811730106
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