Old ideas about where humans came from are getting shaken up! Why? A super old monkey bone from almost 9 million years ago was found in Turkey.
They named it Anadoluvius turkae. The spot where they found it is near a place called Çankr.
This ancient monkey would’ve been about as big as the big boy chimps we see today, weighing somewhere between 110 and 132 lbs.
It probably lived in dry woods and hung out a lot on the ground.
The people studying this tell us that there were a lot of different types of old-timey monkeys around the Mediterranean. These monkeys were the early gang, which includes us humans and our big cousins: the bonobos, chimps, and gorillas.
Professor David Begun from the University of Toronto and his pals did this study.
Prof. Begun shared, “Our findings further suggests that hominines not only evolved in western and central Europe – but spent over five million years evolving there and spreading to the eastern Mediterranean before eventually dispersing into Africa.”
The reason? Maybe the places they lived changed and there were fewer woods around.
“The members of this radiation to which Anadoluvius belongs are currently only identified in Europe and Anatolia.”
How did they figure this out? They looked super close at an almost-whole head bone of Anadoluvius they found in 2015.
It’s not the first bone of this type they found, but it had a lot of the face and even the front brain part!
Prof. Begun was pretty excited. He said, “The completeness of the fossil allowed us to do a broader and more detailed analysis.”
The team used a computer thing to see how this monkey might be related to other creatures.
Professor Ayla Sevim-Erol from Ankara University in Turkey said, “We have no limb bones”.
“But judging from its jaws and teeth, the animals found alongside it, and the geological indicators of the environment, Anadoluvius probably lived in relatively open conditions, unlike the first settings of living great apes.”
She went on, “more like what we think the environments of early humans in Africa were like.”
“The powerful jaws and large, thickly enameled teeth suggest a diet including hard or tough food items from terrestrial sources such as roots and rhizomes.”
(Rhizomes? They’re like plant sticks that grow sideways. They can shoot out roots below and sprouts above.)
The researchers say the animals that hung out with Anadoluvius are the same kind you’d find in dry woods or grassy places today.
You know, animals like antelopes, elephants, giraffes, those laughy hyenas, big cats that look like lions, prickly porcupines, big-nosed rhinos, tusky warthogs, and stripy zebras.
Old studies think these animals moved to Africa from near the Mediterranean sea about eight million years back.
Prof. Sevim-Erol added, “The found of the modern African open country fauna from the eastern Mediterranean has long been known.”
“Now we can add to the list of entrants the ancestors of the African apes and humans.”
Prof. Begun wrapped it up saying, “This new evidence supports the hypothesis that hominines originated in Europe and dispersed into Africa along with many other mammals between nine and seven million years ago, though it does not definitively prove it.”
“For that, we need to find more fossils from Europe and Africa between eight and seven million years old to establish a definitive connection between the two groups.”