Near the old mining town in Central Europe, famous for its picturesque turquoise water in the quarry, lies Rudapitek. For 10 million years, the fossil monkey has been waiting in Rudabanya, Hungary to add its history to the origins of human development.
What Rudabanya gives is the pelvis – among the most informative skeletal bones, but one that is rarely preserved. An international research team led by Carol Ward of the University of Missouri analyzed this new pelvis and found that human bipedalism – or the ability of humans to move two-legged – may have a deeper ancestry than previously thought.
The Rudapithecus pelvis was discovered by David Begun, a professor of anthropology at the University of Toronto who invited Ward to collaborate with him to study this fossil. Runner's work on the bones of the limbs, jaws and teeth showed that Rudapitec is a relative of modern-day African monkeys and humans, a surprise given his location in Europe. But information on his posture and movement is limited, so finding a pelvis is important.
"Rudapitheck was a lot like a monkey and probably moved among the branches like the monkeys now – he keeps his body upright and hands up," said Ward, a respected professor of pathology and anatomical sciences at the School of Medicine. MU and lead author of the study. "However, he would be different from the modern great apes with a more flexible lower back, which would mean, when Rudapitheck came down to earth, he might have the ability to stand more upright than humans. This evidence supports the notion that rather than asking why human ancestors rose from fours, maybe we should ask why our ancestors never went down to fours. "
Modern African monkeys have a long pelvis and a short lower back because they are such large animals, which is one of the reasons they usually walk on fours when they are on Earth, and people have longer, more flexible lower backs, allowing them to stand upright and walk effectively on two feet, a hallmark of human evolution. if humans evolved from an African monkey body, significant changes would be needed to extend the lower back and shorten the pelvis. If humans evolved from a predecessor, more like Rudapithecus, this transition would be much more straightforward.
"We were able to determine that Rudapithecus would have a more flexible torso than today's African monkeys because it was much smaller – just about the size of an average dog," Ward said. "This is important because our finding supports the idea. offered by other evidence that human ancestors may not have been built quite like modern-day African monkeys. " informative skeletal bones, but one that is rarely preserved VA Credit: Carol Ward
Ward partnered with Begun to study the pelvis along with MU graduate Ashley Hammond, Assistant Professor of Biological Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History, and J. Michael Plavkan, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Arkansas. Since the fossil is not 100% complete, the team uses new 3-D modeling techniques to digitally complete its shape, then compare its models with modern animals. Ward said their next step would be to do a 3-D analysis of other fossilized Rudapithecus body parts to gather a more complete picture of how he moved, giving more insight into the ancestors of African monkeys and humans.
Human ancestors were "grounded", new analyzes show
Carol V. Ward et al., Late Miocene Hominid Partial Pelvis from Hungary, Journal of Human Evolution (2019). Doi: 10.1016 / j.jhevol.2019.102645
University of Missouri
Rare 10 million year old fossils reveal a new perspective on human evolution (2019, September 17)
retrieved September 17, 2019
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