STL Science Center

STL Science Center

29 July 2015

African Forest Dwelling Apes

Twenty-three million years ago, give or take, the transitional ape Proconsul appeared in the fossil record as a definitive genus with four recognized species. As with all apes, these were tail-less creatures that scurried about the trees with grasping hands and feet (paws on all four limbs to be more accurate); admittedly some extant apes are not as happy in the trees as they are on the ground despite having the ability, if needed, to at the very least get into a tree's branches. The skeletal remains that have been recovered and displayed show these grasping abilities quite well in the articulated hands and wrists. The skeleton also appears to end somewhat abruptly where the tail would be on a monkey (at the end of the vertebral column, that is). This could be a feature of a line that had only recently truly lost their monkey tail characters, or it could just be how that particular ape genus was shaped. Book end genera would help to accurately describe that morphological trait, but so far I have not found any studies that explain or describe the species that may have preceded or descended from Proconsul.
Proconsul nyanzae

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