New fossil primate species found in Catalonia garbage dump: Pliopithecus canmatensis

The “discovery” of this new fossil primate species, thought to be more than 11 million years old, is as interesting as how it was found. Quoting from EurekAlert, a jaw bone of this newly discovered fossil primate species was found in a rubbish dump in Catalonia, Spain. Yes, you read that right … rubbish dump! First of all, out of curiosity , who throws out a fossil. Secondly, I want to know how this fossil was “found”. Although I do have a suspicion that the fossil was not thrown out but was just coincidentally dug up in a rubbish dump. Who knows … Maybe it’s just another lost in translation scenario.

The lower jaw of Pliopithecus canmatensis. Photo from EurekAlert.

Now back to the fossil. It seems that from the molars and lower jaw, the fossil belongs to the genus Pliopithecus, an extinct family of primitive Catarrhines (Old World Monkeys). This new species was named Pliopithecus canmatensis in honor of the rubbish dump it was found (the rubbish dump of Can Mata in the Vallès-Penedès basin of Catalonia, Spain). At a glance, the dental formula on the lower jaw seems consistent with those of Catarrhines, 2:1:2:3.

“Based on the anatomical, palaeobiographical and biostratigraphic information available, the most probable evolutionary scenario for this group is that the Pliopithecoidea were the first Catarrhini to disperse from Africa to Eurasia, where they experienced an evolutionary radiation in a continent initially deserted of other anthropoids (apes)”, David Alba, main author of the study and researcher at the Catalan Institute for Palaeontology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), explains to SINC.

– EurekAlert, Discovery of a primate more than 11 million years old.

The analysis of this fossil, A new species of Pliopithecus Gervais, 1849 (Primates: Pliopithecidae) from the Middle Miocene (MN8) of Abocador de Can Mata (els Hostalets de Pierola, Catalonia, Spain), was published on American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Originally posted on The Prancing Papio.

2 thoughts on “New fossil primate species found in Catalonia garbage dump: Pliopithecus canmatensis

  1. I believe that it’s just another case of lost in translation, as well as you say.
    The Can Mata deposit was found during the works to extend an existing dump.
    It’s not true that the fossils were plunged in the garbage.
    That deposit seems to be particularly rich in Miocene primate fossils, as can be show by the description of another various species as Pierolapihtecus catalanicus, Anoiapithecus brevirostris or Dryopithecus laietanus.

    I wish You, all the followers of this page, can understand me, cause I know that my english isn’t as good as I like

    1. No, Elessar, your English is perfect. I figured as much as no one would throw out a fossil and have someone found it in a garbage dump.
      Thanks for making this clear!

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