Ancient fossilized teeth of small anthropoid monkeys discovered in Libya suggest our earliest ancestors may have migrated from Asia to Africa, research published on Wednesday showed.
The origin of anthropoids — primates including monkeys, apes and humans — has long been a source of hot debate among paleontologists.
Experts have long argued that anthropoids first appeared in Africa — but recent studies suggest an earlier Asian origin, dating 55 million years ago.
Now new fossils, dating between 38 million and 39 million years ago and discovered in Dur At-Talah in central Libya, further complicate the debate.
They reveal the existence of three types of African anthropoids — the oldest discovered on the continent to date, according to the study published in the British journal Nature.
Based on previous discoveries in Egypt and Algeria, “we are aware until now of only one form of anthropoid primate, dating back 37 million years ago for the oldest,” said one of the study’s authors, Jean-Jacques Jaeger, of Poitiers University in France.
“Here we have gone further, to 39 or 38 million years, and we have three [types] ... and among the three, there is an Asiatic form,” he said.
“This therefore signals the direction of migration from Asia toward Africa,” Jaeger added.
The teeth appear to have belonged to tiny primates, weighing between 120g and 470g in adult form.
“They looked more like marmosets than rats,” Jaeger said. “They had the same prehensile hands with an opposite thumb, nails rather than claws, certainly a tail that served for balance when they climbed or jumped from one branch to another.”
He added that their diminutive size also suggests our history began small.
The recent discovery also poses another question: Did all three types of anthropoids originate in Asia or were they the product of an initial diversification that took place in Africa? Jaeger’s group favors the Asia hypothesis.
“We have the impression it was a relatively significant population movement that most likely took place during the same time,” he said.
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy
Japan’s government yesterday urged people to seek help if they were struggling to cope, following Sunday’s death of the popular actress and Miss Sherlock star Yuko Takeuchi, 40. News of her death shocked the nation and follows other recent cases of Japanese celebrities taking their lives, with figures showing a recent rise in suicides. Takeuchi was a household name in Japan and had given birth to her second child in January. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato did not mention a particular case, but said that some people were struggling to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There has been an uptick in the number
China on Thursday lashed out at the US at a high-level UN meeting over its criticism on the COVID-19 pandemic, with its envoy declaring, “Enough is enough.” Two days after US President Donald Trump used his annual address to the General Assembly to attack China’s record, US Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft, also took an outraged tone — after which her Chinese counterpart showed palpable anger. “I must say, enough is enough. You have created enough troubles for the world already,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun (張軍) told a Security Council meeting on global governance attended through videoconference