Scientists Find Oldest Example Of An Upright Ape

Previously, it’s been thought that humans started shifting from being quadrupedal animals to bipedal some three to six million years ago. However, in a recent research released just this week, the remains of an ancient ape found in a clay pit in Bavaria revealed that human ancestors and primates started walking on two feet much earlier, rewriting the entire known knowledge about human bipedalism.

Published in the journal Nature, the discovery made by an international team of researchers stated the partial and fossilized remains of an ancient ape bears a very striking resemblance to the bones of modern humans. The catch, however, is that the ape presumably lived some 12 million years ago in the humid forests of what is now southern Germany, changing what we know about our ancestors and bipedalism. Per the research, the ancient species (Danuvius guggenmosi) climbed trees like an ape but also walked on two legs.

"The findings raise fundamental questions about our previous understanding of the evolution of the great apes and humans," Madelaine Boehme of the University of Tuebingen, Germany, who led the research, said.

Ever since Charles Darwin first argued that apes are the ancestors of modern-day humans, researchers and scientists have started looking for clues as to when ancient apes first learned how to walk on two feet. Previously, fossil records of apes that have an upright gait only date back to around six million years ago.

Oldest Upright Ape Fossil

Along with researchers hailing from Canada, Germany, Bulgaria and the United States, Boehme reportedly examined around 15,000 bones that have been recovered from a clay pit located around 70 kilometers west of Munich in Germany. Among the finds were the archaeological partial remains of an adult male ape that weighs around 31 kilograms, and probably looked similar to the modern-day Bonobos.

"It was astonishing for us to realize how similar certain bones are to humans, as opposed to great apes," Boehme said. "This changes our view of early human evolution, which is that it all happened in Africa."

That being said, some experts believe these new findings would likely cause debates.

gorilla A new genetics discovery could help humans and apes. Tambako The Jaguar CC BY-ND 2.0