Human ancestors 'colonised Africa from Asia'
Wednesday 27 October 2010
Africa did not give birth to the ancestors of monkeys, apes and humans as is often believed, new research suggests.
Instead the earliest "anthropoids" colonised Africa from Asia, it is claimed.
New fossils discovered in central Libya and dating back 39 million years contain a surprising variety of species, say scientists.
They include three distinct families of anthropoid primates that lived in North Africa at about the same time.
Their sudden appearance can either be explained by a striking gap in the African fossil record, or colonisation from another continent.
Writing in the journal Nature, the experts said they believed migration from Asia to be the most plausible theory.
Lead researcher Dr Christopher Beard, from the Carnegie Museum of National History in Pittsburgh, US, said: "If our ideas are correct, this early colonisation of Africa by anthropoids was a truly pivotal event - one of the key points in our evolutionary history.
"At the time, Africa was an island continent; when these anthropoids appeared, there was nothing on that island that could compete with them.
"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."
- 2 Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
- 3 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 4 University student in court for allegedly covering housemates' food in window cleaner and spit
- 5 Ryan Gosling posts tribute to 'Ryan Gosling Won't Eat His Cereal' creator Ryan McHenry
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Who should I vote for? The Independent quiz matches best political party for undecided voters ahead of the general election
Mysterious 'X-Files' sounds heard miles above the Earth
Garland shooting: Isis claims attack on Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest in Texas as its first action on US soil
Met Gala 2015: Beyoncé manages to out-skimp Rihanna, Miley and Kim Kardashian combined with near-naked ensemble
In defence of liberal democracy
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...
£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...
£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...