Fossils of a newly-discovered ancient ape could give clues to how and when walking on two legs evolved. The ability to walk upright is considered a key characteristic of being human.[Danuvius guggenmosi] had arms suited to hanging in the trees, but human-like legs. It may have walked along branches and even on the ground some 12 million years ago, pushing back the timeline for bipedal walking, say researchers.
Until now the earliest fossil evidence for walking upright dates back to six million years ago.
The four fossils – of a male, two females and a juvenile – were unearthed in a clay pit in Bavaria between 2015 and 2018.
“The finds in southern Germany are a milestone in palaeoanthropology, because they raise fundamental questions about our previous understanding of the evolution of the great apes and humans,” said Prof Madelaine Böhme from the University of Tübingen, Germany. She said the ape could be the best model we have for the “missing link” between humans and apes.
The animal’s build, posture and locomotion are unique among primates. Understanding how we came to walk on two feet promises to answer many of the fundamental questions about the evolution of our species.
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