Washington, June 3 (ANI): Scientists from the Institut Catala de Paleontologia in Barcelona have reported the discovery of a new genus of hominoid primate.
The fossil remains displays very interesting particularities, such as an extraordinarily flat face, and further combines primitive with derived traits, characteristic of great apes.
This find significantly enables to take a step forward in the understanding of the origin of our own family, the Hominidae.
It demonstrates that kenyapithecines are the sister taxon of extant hominids and shows that the Mediterranean region was the source area of our family.
The new hominid has been given the scientific name of Anoiapithecus brevirostris, in reference to the region where the town of els Hostalets is situated (l'Anoia) and also to the fact that the new taxon has a very modern facial morphology, characterized by a very reduced facial prognathism, i.e. by a very short face.
Colloquially, it has been named as Lluc (since it is a male individual).
The new genus and species, Anoiapithecus brevirostris, has been described on the basis of a partial cranium that preserves most of the face and the associated mandible.
The specimen (IPS43000) combined a set of features that until now had never been found from the fossil record.
On the one hand, Anoiapithecus displays a very modern facial morphology, with a muzzle prognathism so reduced that, within the family Hominidae, we can only find comparable values within the genus Homo sapiens, whereas the remaining great apes are notoriously more prognathic.
The second surprise provided by Lluc is that it enabled to solve two key questions regarding the origin of our family: what group it is derived from, and which is the geographic area where the family Hominidae originated.
Until now, scientists merely suspected that a group of primitive hominoids known as kenyapithecines (recorded from the Middle Miocene of Africa and Eurasia) might be the ancestral group that hominids would have derived from.
This hypothesis could never be verified, because the adequate paleontological material required to do so was unavailable.
The detailed morphological study of the cranial remains of Lluc showed that, together with the modern anatomical features that characterized the family Hominidae, and which permit to consider it a member of this family, it displays a set of primitive features, such as thick dental enamel, teeth with globulous cusps, very robust mandible and very procumbent premaxilla, which are primitive features that characterize a group of primitive hominoids from the African Middle Miocene, known as afropithecids. (ANI)