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Science

Mother of All Apes May Have Been Surprisingly Small (sciencemag.org) 33

sciencehabit writes: From sturdy chimpanzees to massive gorillas to humans themselves, the living great apes are all large-bodied, weighing between 30 and 180 kilograms. So for years most researchers thought the ancestral ape must have tipped the scales as well. But the partial skeleton of an 11.6-million-year-old primitive ape may force scientists to reimagine the ancestor of all living apes and humans. With a muzzle like a gibbon but a large brain for its body size, the ancient primate has traits that link it to all apes and humans—yet it weighed only 4 kg to 5 kg, according to a report today in Science.
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Mother of All Apes May Have Been Surprisingly Small

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  • Sure, why not (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday October 31, 2015 @06:44AM (#50837401) Homepage Journal

    I was at a zoo in Panama and a tiny little monkey offered me some of his dirty banana. I guess I looked like him. I told him no thanks, though, he could keep it. So he finished it. The point of this story is that we're not that different from a monkey, except most humans wouldn't offer you shit

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The perfect name.

  • Err yes (Score:5, Informative)

    by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Saturday October 31, 2015 @07:50AM (#50837483) Homepage

    From sturdy chimpanzees to massive gorillas to humans themselves, the living great apes are all large-bodied, weighing between 30 and 180 kilograms.

    Err, yes, that's why they're called "great apes," isn't it?

    There are lesser apes as well, which are all gibbons.

    So for years most researchers thought the ancestral ape must have tipped the scales as well.

    I assume there's a bit more to the previous reasoning than that.

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      I thought gibbons were among the great apes. They are, however, considerably lighter than chimps, Google says about 5 Kg.

      Anyone who didn't consider gibbons among the descendants of proto-ape-kind wasn't doing his homework.

    • So for years most researchers thought the ancestral ape must have tipped the scales as well.

      I assume there's a bit more to the previous reasoning than that.

      There is. One of the big things being that (arguably) the best known of the older "apes" is Proconsul, found mostly in localities in East Africa - exactly the region where the later apes (including hominids) have been most often found.

      This discovery however, comes from near Barcelona, near the French-Spanish (and Catalan) border(s), and is some conside

  • Small, light and agile would have been the advantage back then, once the evolutionary niche was carved out and your species started to flourish, then the competetive size differences would start to evolve.

  • by evanh ( 627108 )

    Here I was thinking those single-celled amoeba had a ten metre girth.

  • "Mother of All Apps"

  • I would really like to know when apes first started believing in an all power being. Was it one crazy ape from one group, or many crazy apes from different groups?
    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      Well, it has to have been after the creation of language. Probably after the creation of pronouns.

      OTOH, IIUC most tribal groups DON'T believe in an all-powerful being. Just a mighty ancestor, whose deeds become increasingly magnified as he retreats further into the past. Maui had a mother, e.g., and did what she told him to...usually.

      So I'd guess that the "all powerful being" doesn't much predate Ikhnaton. And that it was usually a personification of the sun. (Note that early Judaic writings say things

  • A story where "ur mom [yourdictionary.com] " would actually be a relevant comment.

  • This discovery should certainly be taken into account when attempting to solve the puzzle of human evolution.

    Archaeology, like almost no other earth science study, has a tendency to flip convention on its head with a single discovery.

    To be fair, millions of year-old corroboration is difficult to obtain, but let's keep it in perspective. It seems likely there were multiple dead ends during the evolutionary pressures selecting derivatives of early humanoids.

  • but the father, being (naturally) male -- and therefore just as naturally a rapist -- was a big, uncaring brute who never shared his feelings.

  • ... And its got hair Donald Trump would die for.
  • That's about 400lb. Quite a few humans weigh more than that.

  • So not only am I am monkey's uncle but now i must live with being a dwarf monkey's uncle.
  • Nothing surprising here. First we have creatures not very efficient at gathering food, which are bound to remain small because of the lack of resource

    Then there is a breakthrough: a bigger brain, which allows more efficient food gathering, resulting in bigger bodies.

  • ...from chimpan-a to chimpanzee.

"It's like deja vu all over again." -- Yogi Berra

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