(Telegraph) Meet ‘Alesi’, the 13-million-year-old baby monkey which scientists say is mankind’s earliest ancestor
Ababy ape discovered in Kenya could be an example of theearliest ancestors of all living humans, scientists believe.
The little creature, whose skull is roughly the size of a lemon, lived around 13 million years ago and came from a family which may have eventually evolved into man and apes.
It was discovered by Kenyan fossil hunter John Ekusi in ancient rock layers in the Napudet area, west of Lake Turkana, in the north of the country.
The fossil survived because a nearby volcano buried the forest in which it lived millions of years ago, perfectly preserving the skull, even down to the tiny ear canals deep inside its cranium.
All humans and apes alive today come from a common lineage, but until now paleontologists have only managed to trace that line back to 10 million years ago so it was unclear what our ancestors looked liked further back, and if they originated in Africa or elsewhere.
The new specimen has been labelled Nyanzapithecus alesi, with its species name taken from the Turkana word for ancestor – ‘ales.’ It was just 16 months old when it died.