By Richard Gray , Science Correspondent. The mouse-sized fossil, which was discovered in China, is the earliest known cousin of humans yet to be found. Scientists believe the creature, which has been named Archicebus achilles , provides new insights into where our ancestors first evolved. Rather than evolving in Africa as was believed in the past, the discovery supports theories that the common ancestor of monkeys, apes and humans first appeared in Asia.
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As of , it is the oldest fossil haplorhine primate skeleton discovered,   appearing to be most closely related to tarsiers and the fossil omomyids , although A.
Resembling tarsiers and simians monkeys , apes , and humans , it was a haplorhine primate, and it also may have resembled the last common ancestor of all haplorhines as well as the last common ancestor of all primates.
Archicebus achilles was named for being the oldest known primate skeleton as of [update] and for its distinguishing calcaneus heel bone. The species name, achilles , is a reference to Achilles , the Greek hero of the Trojan War from Greek mythology.
Archicebus achilles exhibits similarities with simians with regard to the shape of its calcaneus and the proportions of its metatarsals , yet its skull, teeth, and appendicular skeleton resemble those of tarsiers.
According to phylogenetic analysis , all of these traits taken together suggest it is the most basal member of the tarsiiform clade within the suborder Haplorhini. Considering its age, and since simians are a sister group to tarsiiforms, A. Lemuriformes lemurs. Tarsiidae tarsiers. Platyrrhini New World monkeys. Cercopithecoidea Old World monkeys. Hominoidea apes and humans. The discovery of A. Judging from its large canine teeth and sharp crests on its premolars , A.
Unlike tarsiers, however, its smaller eyes suggest it was diurnal , a pattern previously suggested by other early haplorhines, such as Teilhardina asiatica. Its hind limbs suggest it did a lot of leaping; however, its hips, shoulders, and feet also suggest that it was not a vertical clinger and leaper such as tarsiers and galagos are, but likely moved through the trees in a more generalized quadrupedal fashion by grasping tree limbs from above.
Early Primate Weighed Less Than an Ounce
A tiny, insect-eating animal with slender limbs, a long tail and weighing in at no more than 30 grams, has become the earliest known primate in the fossil record. Archicebus achilles lived on a humid, tropical lake shore 55m years ago in what is now China and is the ancestor of all modern tarsiers, monkeys, apes and humans. Scientists found the fossil, whose name translates as "ancient monkey", in the Hubei province of China about a decade ago but it hasn't received detailed analysis until now. About 7cm long, Archicebus lived in the trees and its small, pointed teeth are evidence that its diet consisted of insects. The fossil's large eye sockets indicate a creature with good vision and, according to scientists, it probably hunted during daytime. Xijun Ni of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who led the study of the fossil, described the animal as having a very long tail, slender limbs, a round face and feet capable of grasping. A full description of the fossil is published in the latest edition of Nature.
Oldest primate fossil rewrites evolutionary break in human lineage
An international team of paleontologists has discovered a well-preserved skeleton of a new tiny, tree-dwelling primate named Archicebus achilles that lived in what is now central China during Eocene about 55 million years ago. The find, described in the journal Nature , is the oldest known fossil primate skeleton. With completeness comes more information and better evidence for the adaptive and evolutionary themes concerning primate evolution. It takes guessing out of the game.
Archicebus achilles could be humanity's earliest primate cousin
This nearly complete, articulated skeleton of a tiny, tree-dwelling primate named Archicebus achilles was encased within a rock and discovered after the rock was split open, yielding a skeleton and impressions of primate bones on each side of the two rock halves one half is pictured here. The fossil, discovered by an international team of paleontologists, was found in Hubei Province in central China and dates back 55 million years. The team used 3-D, high-resolution reconstruction to study the fossil, aided by high-tech scanning at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility. Analysis by the team showed the animal was very small and would have weighed less than an ounce, with slender limbs and a long tail. It would have been an excellent arboreal leaper, was active during the daytime and mainly fed on insects. It will force us to rewrite how the anthropoid lineage evolved. We see typical robust grasping big toes, long toes and nailed digits of primitive arboreal primates, but we also have rather monkey-looking heel bones and monkey-like long metatarsals, often viewed as advanced features that you would not normally find in a primitive early Eocene fossil primate.
Oldest primate skeleton unveiled
The near-complete fossil of a tiny creature unearthed in China in has bolstered the idea that the anthropoid group of primates — whose modern-day members include monkeys, apes and humans — had appeared by at least 55 million years ago. The fossil primate does not belong to that lineage, however: it is thought to be the earliest-discovered ancestor of small tree-dwelling primates called tarsiers, showing that even at this early time, the tarsier and anthropoid groups had split apart. How the ancient primate might have looked, in its natural habitat of trees artistic reconstruction. The mammal sports an odd blend of features, with its skull, teeth and limb bones having proportions resembling those of tarsiers, but its heel and foot bones more like anthropoids.