New Clues in Human Evolution Timeline

ANN ARBOR, Mich., July 14 (UPI) — The fossilized remains of a previously unknown primate found in Saudi Arabia could offer new clues to the timeline of human evolution, researchers say.

The discovery could yield evidence of the date of divergence between hominoids and Old Word monkeys, a paper in this week’s issue of the journal Nature reported.

The timing of the divergence of hominoids — apes and humans — and cercopithecoids — Old World monkeys — from a common ancestor is a key topic in human evolution, the paper says.

Genome-based estimates place the split at around 35 to 30 million years ago, but little has been found in the fossil record to improve the estimate of the timing.

The new fossil, a partial skull of a medium size primate dated to about 29 millions years ago, still has a few characteristics of the common ancestor, suggesting the split occurred later than previously thought, somewhere between 29 and 24 million year ago, the journal paper says.

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