Wed. Jan 29th, 2020

arms to hang on trees and "legs" like human

A team of paleontologists has discovered a new species of ape that lived during the Miocene, about 11.6 million years ago. The specimen fossil, found in Germany, sheds light on how the apes could have been before being bipeds, according to the study published yesterday in "Nature".

That is to say, a kind of ape whose means of locomotion would not be primarily based on the use of the upper limbs, but would also begin to walk using the lower ones.

"It is a relevant investigation because since the beginning of the 19th century evolutionists have been discussing how they started walking, how we humans have passed, that we are also apes, to be bipeds ”, explains Antonio Rosas, paleoanthropologist of the National Museum of Natural Sciences of the Superior Council of Scientific Research (CSIC) to this newspaper.

For more than two centuries, different theories have been proposed to explain hominid bipedalism, but the fossil evidence that allowed answering this important question was missing. Thus, it has been suggested that it evolved from a quadruped that puts its entire foot on the ground, similar to monkeys, or a more suspensive quadruped, which was more similar to chimpanzees. Paleontologist Madelaine Böhme and her companions have called this new ape whose complete limb bones were located in Algovia, a region southwest of Bavaria, such as Danuvius guggenmosi.

Danuvios was an ape with suitable arms to hang on trees but with human-like legs. Specifically, the study authors suggest that Danuvius provides evidence of what they call "climbing with extended limbs." And it is that it is an ape could have used the upper extremities to move through the branches of the trees, but, and unlike other apes such as gibbons or orangutants that do not use both their lower and upper limbs for locomotion, this The species had lower limbs that were straight and could have been used for walking.

Further, This ape also had an opposable big toe, which means he would have walked supporting the soles of his feet. Hence the authors conclude that guggenmosi illustrates the way in which the apes began to walk on their lower extremities before reaching the ground.

“Having our hands free to walk, a quality that makes us be as we are, that differentiates us from other primates. Knowing where bipedism starts is an important question because it would help us understand our past, to rebuild that ancestor we came from, although that does not mean that Danuvius guggenmosi represents our direct ancestors, ”emphasizes Rosas.

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