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Researchers have used fossilized teeth found near Lake Turkana in northwest Kenya to identify a new monkey species—a discovery that helps fill a 6-million-year gap in primate evolution.
UNLV geoscientist Terry Spell and former master's student Dawn Reynoso were part of the international research team that discovered the species that lived 22 million years ago. Understanding the evolution of Old World monkeys is important because, along with the great apes and humans, they belong to the anthropoid group of primates—primates that resemble humans.
Spell - Fossil - Discovery - Study - Section
According to Spell, the monkey fossil discovery grew out of a more extensive study of a section of sedimentary rocks in Kenya that contain a large number of different types of fossils, including several hundred mammal and reptile jaws, limbs, and teeth.
Previous studies had documented the early evolution of Old World monkeys using fossils dated at 19 million and 25 million years old, leaving a 6-million-year gap in the earliest record. However, the new fossil was determined to be 22 million years in age. Isotopic ages on the rocks were obtained in the Nevada Isotope Geochronology Laboratory on the UNLV campus.
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"This adds to our understanding of the earliest evolutionary history of Old World monkeys, including changes in their diet with time...
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