Ape fossil record

Alex Duncan (aduncan@mail.utexas.edu)
25 Jul 1995 17:53:46 GMT

In article <9507221021.0EJFY00@sstar.com> , ann.nunn@sstar.com writes:
>NE>Do you think gorillas and chimps haven't evolved in 5 - 10 Myr? Your
>NE>question makes it apparent that you think we evolved from creatures
>NE>identical to modern gorillas or chimps. We do not have a fossil record
>NE>for gorillas and chimps, and thus are denied much information from those
>NE>branches of the hominoid evolutionary tree.
>Why not? Why don't we have a fossil record for gorillas or chimps?

Why not what?

I may have spoken too soon about not having a fossil record for gorillas
and chimps. There are fragments and reasonably complete fossils that MAY
be gorilla or chimp precursors. However, no one really agrees about the
systematic position of these specimens, and so it seems safest not to
make any extravagant claims about them.

Its not clear why we don't have a better fossil record for the African
apes. One suggestion is that the ancestors of these apes were probably
inhabitants of rain forest, which is an environment notably inhospitable
to preserving bone.

A more likely explanation is that the appropriate fossil bearing
sediments simply haven't been discovered yet. I expect this situation
will change.

Alex Duncan
Dept. of Anthropology
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712-1086