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Remains of the smallest monkey found in Germany

German paleontologists have managed to create a new species of monkey based on several fossils previously found in a parking lot near the Bavarian town of Hammerschmidt. These primates lived on the territory of modern Western Europe 11.6 million years ago and coexisted with representatives of other species. According to the scientists who made the discovery, this is the smallest monkey known to science today.

About 15 million years ago, during the Upper Miocene, hominids, the primate family that includes humans and great apes, became less common in Africa and more common in Europe. Although their ranges in the Dark Continent sometimes overlapped, this probably did not occur in the Old World during the Miocene. At least modern science is not familiar with such cases. Evidence shows that no known monkey species living in Europe at the time shared habitat with another species, meaning the species did not coexist with each other.

In 2019, German paleontologist Madelaine Böhme from the University of Tübingen and her colleagues reported the discovery of 37 bones in a parking lot near the Bavarian town of Hammerschmidt. It was soon revealed that the bones belonged to an extinct species of great ape. Danuvius guggenmosi. This species lived 11.6 million years ago during the Miocene period.

In the same cultural layer where the bones were found Danuvius guggenmosiScientists found two teeth and a kneecap reminiscent of monkeys. At the time, researchers couldn’t be sure whether the remains belonged to them or not. Danuvius guggenmosi or other species: The fossils turned out to be unsuitable for DNA analysis.

Five years later, Böhme and his colleagues returned to the find and re-examined the two teeth and the patella, this time using microtomography and other imaging techniques. Detailed measurements of the seven-millimeter-long canine tooth and the 16-millimeter-wide patella showed that they belonged to a juvenile, while part of the second premolar belonged to an adult. So the remains belong to a new monkey species.

Boehme and his team named this species Buronius manfredschmidi – in honor of the medieval name of the town located near the excavation site and the dentist Manfred Schmid, who has been collecting fossils there since the 1970s.

Scientists calculated the thickness of the enamel of the two teeth and found that it was very thin, like that of gorillas. This shows that Buronius manfredschmidi It feeds on soft fruits and leaves. The shape and thickness of the kneecap and the places where the ligaments are attached are similar to the kneecaps of tree-dwelling primates. Therefore, the authors of the scientific study concluded: Buronius manfredschmidi They were probably skilled “climbers” who were good at climbing rocks and trees.

“Representatives of a new species of monkey are quite small primates. They weighed about 10 kilograms each, meaning they were much smaller and lighter than other great apes known to scientists.” explained Böhme.

According to the study’s authors, the discovered species shared habitat with another, much larger hominid. Danuvius guggenmosiThis is a unique situation. Previously, as we mentioned above, examples of such coexistence among hominids were not known in Europe.

Boehme argues that one of the reasons for this is Danuvius guggenmosi And Buronius manfredschmidi can live together in the same area; There is no competition for resources. The first ate hard foods such as nuts and possibly meat. Others – soft. However, paleontologists do not rule out the existence of a larger ape that could have been three times heavier than itself. Buronius manfredschmidiSometimes he ate the little friends.

The possibility of two great ape species living in the same environment and even interacting with each other is an astonishing discovery. This is further evidence that Europe during the Miocene was a suitable and suitable place for the evolution of primates. You can read more about the results of the Böhme team’s research in the article published in the journal. PLoS One.

Source: Port Altele



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