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Ancestor

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Alesi, the skull of the new extinct ape species Nyanzapithecus alesi (KNM-NP 59050). Copyright: Fred Spoor

Origin Stories Season Two | Episode One | Ancestor

 

Just recently, the news media announced the discovery of a fossil ape called Alesi. This remarkable fossil was found in Kenya, and it’s from a time period where there’s a big blank spot in the fossil record of our family tree. This 13 million-year-old fossil tells us something new about the very early evolution of apes and even shows what the common ancestor of us and all the other living apes might have looked like. This episode tells the story behind the discovery.


Bonus Content

3D animation of the Alesi skull computed from the ESRF microtomographic data. It shows first the skull in solid 3D rendering, then transparent surface rendering is used to show the endocast shape (light blue), the internal ears (green), and the permanent teeth germs (grey and brown). © Paul Tafforeau / ESRF

Photo Gallery

Links

New 13 million-year-old infant skull sheds light on ape ancestry

Questions and answers about Alesi

New infant cranium from the African Miocene sheds light on ape evolution. Nengo, I., Tafforeau, P., Gilbert, C.C., Fleagle, J.G.., Miller, E.R., Feibel, C., Fox, D., Feinberg, J., Pugh, K.D., Berruyer, C., Mana, S., Engle, Z. and Spoor, F.  Nature 10 August 2017. doi:10.1038/nature23456.

Credits

Editor Julia Barton 

Series Producer Meredith Johnson

Associate Producer Shuka Kalantari

 

Sound Design Katie McMurran

Theme Music Henry Nagle 

Intern Yuka Oiwa

Additional Music Lee Rosevere