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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Primates originally from Asia?

Did Primates originate in Asia and not Africa?

A Team of researchers has published a new study on the discovery of four species of anthropoid primate found in the Sahara desert. It is believed they are around 39 million years old and that it they represent the members of a primate migration from Asia. 
Dr Christopher Beard, of Carnegie Museum of Natural History and author of the new paper states in the UK's Daily Mail, "If our ideas are correct, this early colonization of Africa by anthropoids was a truly pivotal event—one of the key points in our evolutionary history.  It led to a period of flourishing evolutionary divergence amongst anthropoids, and one of those lineages resulted in humans. If our early anthropoid ancestors had not succeeded in migrating from Asia to Africa, we simply wouldn’t exist." (Source)
The three clades that the primates belonged to have not been found in early deposits in the region, despite over 100 years of dedicated fossil collection in Africa.  Thus the team feels the evidence clearly points to the recent discoveries being recent arrivals, overseas travelers from Asia. (Source)
Dr. Bear reports, "This extraordinary new fossil site in Libya shows us that 39 million years ago there was a surprising diversity of anthropoids living in Africa, whereas few if any anthropoids are known from Africa before this time. This sudden appearance of such diversity suggests that these anthropoids probably colonized Africa from somewhere else. Without earlier fossil evidence in Africa, we’re currently looking to Asia as the place where these animals first evolved." (Source)
The new study is published in Nature.
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