The earliest-known ancestor of modern primates, including humans, roamed North America 56 million years ago. Scientists dated a jaw of…
The earliest-known ancestor of modern primates, including humans, roamed North America 56 million years ago.
Scientists dated a jaw of a fossilized mouse-sized mammal and found it was as old as specimens found in Europe and China, where it was thought the species originated.
The animal is known as Teilhardina and eventually gave rise to today’s monkeys, apes and humans.
Only humans spread further than Teilhardina, which was found in the forests of Asia, Europe and North America.
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Scientists who dated the jaw of a fossilized mouse-sized mammal (pictured) found it to be as old as specimens found in Europe and China, where it was thought the species originated
Dr Paul Morse from the University of Florida said: ‘About 56 million years ago, on an Earth so hot that palm trees graced the Arctic Circle, a mouse-sized primate known as Teilhardina first curled its fingers around a branch.
‘While the fossils we’ve found potentially violate past hypotheses or where Teilhardina came from and where it migrated, they definitely do not offer a clearer scenario.’
‘The scientific conclusion is’ We just do not know. “
‘What is clear is that T. brandti had a wide variety of features, some of which are as primitive as those found in Teilhardina asiatica, its Asian cousin, previously thought to be the oldest species in the genus.
Study co-author Dr Jonathan Bloch added: ‘Identifying differences between primate teeth.’
The study, published in the Journal of Human Evolution, studied 163 teeth and jaws in the most comprehensive analysis of T. brandti to date. is not so different from a biker recognition ng that a Harley is different from a scooter or an art critic evaluating whether an image was created by Picasso or Banksy. ‘
A team of paleontologists spent studying the surface of Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin to find the specimens.
The painstaking process has allowed the dental record of T. to burn two blots from a single molar to hundreds of teeth.
Through this process it allowed researchers to study variation within the population.
Dr Morse said: “Jon and I started arguing about the alveoli, empty tooth sockets and how they did not look right at all.
‘At the end of the day, we realized that the specimen completely overturned both the species definition of T. asiatica and part of the rationale for why it is the oldest Teilhardina species.
‘There’s probably a tremendous amount of variation in the fossil record, but it’s extremely difficult to capture and measure when you have a small sample size.
A team of paleontologists spent studying the surface of Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin to find the specimens. The painstaking process has allowed the dental record of T. branded two blossoms from a single molar to hundreds of teeth (pictured)
‘That’s one of the reasons why additional fossils are so important.’
The analysis also reshuffled the
Two species were also reclassified as members of a new genus.
Teilhardina appeared during a letter 200,000-year period known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM.
This era was characterized by a massive injection of carbon into the Earth’s atmosphere, which sent global temperatures soaring.
Sea levels surged by 220 feet (67 meters), ecosystems were overhauled and the waters at the North Poland warmed to 23 ° C (74 ° F).
Dr Bloch said: “The humblest statement would be to say that these species are essentially equivalent in age.
Teilhardina brandt probably resembled a modern tarsier, a small primate native to Southeast Asia. A team of paleontologists studied the surface of Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin to find the specimens. The painstaking process has allowed the dental record of T. branded two blossoms from a single molar to hundreds of teeth ” class=”blkBorder img-share” />