Human ancestors 'came from Asia'

2010-10-28 08:26

Paris - Ancient fossilised teeth of small anthropoid monkeys discovered in Libya suggest our earliest ancestors may have migrated from Asia to Africa, research published on Wednesday showed.

The origin of anthropoids - primates including monkeys, apes and humans - has long been a source of hot debate among palaeontologists.

Experts have long argued anthropoids first appeared in Africa - but recent studies suggest an earlier Asian origin, dating 55 million years ago.

Now new fossils, dating 38 to 39 million years ago and discovered in Dur At-Talah in central Libya, further complicate the debate.

They reveal the existence of three types of African anthropoids - the oldest discovered on the continent to date, according to the study published in the British journal Nature.


Based on previous discoveries in Egypt and Algeria, "we are aware until now of only one form of anthropoid primate, dating back 37 million years ago for the oldest", said one of the study's authors, Jean-Jacques Jaeger, of Poitiers University in France.

"Here we have gone further, to 39 or 38 million years, and we have three (types)... and among the three, there is an Asiatic form," he said.

"This therefore signals the direction of migration from Asia toward Africa," Jaeger added.

The teeth appear to have belonged to tiny primates, weighing between 120g and 470g in adult form.

"They looked more like marmosets than rats," Jaeger said. "They had the same prehensile hands with an opposite thumb, nails rather than claws, certainly a tail that served for balance when they climbed or jumped from one branch to another."

Their diminutive size also suggests our history began small, he added. The recent discovery also poses another question: Did all three types of anthropoids originate in Asia or were they the product of an initial diversification that took place in Africa?

Jaeger's group favours the Asia hypothesis.

"We have the impression it was a relatively significant population movement that most likely took place during the same time," he said.

  • Eugene - 2010-10-28 08:38

    Such a False article,, its been proved that our ancestors are not monkeys, There is no missing link and even Darwin was mis quotes. Why do people need to believe we came from something that looks like us but is set apart in our genes?? 95 Percent of all creatures that existed on earth are extinct today,,,yes you will find more and more fossils doesn't mean our ancestors where apes. If your life means that little to really need to consider why are you here and conscious..

  • Dr Steve Brule - 2010-10-28 08:47

    Nonsense, everybody knows the earth is 4000 years old and women were made from a mens ribs.

  • Bob - 2010-10-28 08:56

    Interesting. Very Interesting.

  • jason @ Dr Brule - 2010-10-28 09:12

    My bible calculations say 10,000 years. And the man was made of dust.

  • Dirk - 2010-10-28 09:21

    Interesing what these guys dream up from mere teeth. Please can we get real scientific articles in future not this rubbish. You see teeth only and say how much they weighed and what their faces looked like??? There is no facts, check the words, "suggest", "impression", "likely", etc. Come on, it seems that these scientists believe their own theories, thus they are building their own seperate religion. If News24 wants to publish this then please also publish daily Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, etc regious messages...Give all religions equal airtime not just EVOLUTION!

  • @Eugene - 2010-10-28 09:46

    "its been proven that our ancestors are not monkey". By the above statement I’m sure you tried to mean that we didn’t evolve from the same ancestors as monkeys, obviously you wouldn’t know the difference since you probably have never bothered to read up on the subject . Please provide one scientific research paper that backs your wild claim! Stop listening to what your pastor tells you and try start thinking for yourself.

  • Matthew Charles White - 2010-10-28 09:49

    Eugene - the fact that humans are apes — known taxonomically as Homo sapiens (Latin for "knowing man") the only living species in the Homo genus of bipedal primates in Hominidae, the great ape family — does not deny the existence of God, who, being outside space and time, has shaped his creation by means of evolution.

  • Nibiru - 2010-10-28 09:51

    You earthlings all originated from the Antarctic

  • Bob @ Dirk - 2010-10-28 09:58

    Please stick to the topic of evolution and don't bring religion into it please. And to correct you on Evolution being a couldn't be further from the truth ou Dirkie. Evolution is a scientific model based on established facts, derived from available evidence. Sometimes new evidence presents itself and disputes what are currently accepted as fact and then the scientists move forward with their new facts to build a more accurate model of evolution etc. To establish something as an accepted fact is not simply 2 or 3 scientists deciding it over brunch, it is a rigorous process but sometimes they don't get it 100% right. However, built into the process is the open-mindedness to accept this and work with new evidence. It is what makes science so exciting...always new evidence to analyze and decipher...not stale like some religious dogma and tradition. Yes, we do encounter some dogmatic, old fashioned scientists, but they are most often over-ridden by the progressive majority.

  • Steven - 2010-10-28 10:30

    Sorry guys but this is a science and technology story,so why don't you all hurry back to the comfort of your fairy tales.

  • Mr Drew - 2010-10-28 10:42

    Damn, I was quite proud to tell everyone they came from Jo'burg, now it turns out we all come from Asia. Which will probably please the bible-bashers as that lends credence to the fable about the Garden of Eden.

  • trueblueandreal - 2010-10-28 11:17

    Each new fossil find further muddies the waters of evolutionary theory.

  • homo novus - 2010-10-28 11:20

    The only real evidence we have for the theory of evolution is the people who actually believe it.

  • Bob - 2010-10-28 11:30

    This may well become a political issue, with Africa's current claim as being the cradle of human-kind. While these fossils are not exactly of early humans but rather of what may prove to be a very early common ancestor of both humans and apes, I still foresee some resistance. Who knows, it may prove incorrect and the current theory/model may stand, but if the new evidence is not poked, prodded, turned upside-down and shaken about, we will never know will we?

  • thelostsheep - 2010-10-28 11:55

    "Life as reveled by new technologies is more complicated than the Darwinian viewpoint anticipated. Thus evolutionary theory, which was considered to be a key foundation of biology in 1959, today has a more peripheral role...modern science makes it more possible to be a scientifically informed doubter of Darwinian theories of evolution" Dr. Roland Hirsch, Chemistry.

    I have not only become a doubter bur a discenter. BTW in science, facts do not speak for themselves, they are always interpreted.

  • @Bob - 2010-10-28 11:58

    So why then to scientists advance their "models" as if it were fact. The fact is that per the science of statistics, teh probability that this world was created by pure chance is zero. That does not mean that evolution did not tak place. Its just means that there had to have been a higher power. Why can't "people of understanding" get that? "Have they no sense?"

  • Major Shistirrer - 2010-10-28 12:48

    ... Here we go again. Why should science and religion be mutually exclusive? For me the two support each other in so many ways. I have yet to see one fact to prove to me that science and religion are not aligned. That is, if you take Genesis as a "synopsis" to tell what happened, an in which order, and not literally as 7 days of 24 hours each - which is what blinds a lot of people to the wonder of science and evolution.

  • GBES - 2010-10-28 12:50

    Only science will improve our knowledge,for better or for worse.Scientists starts with a hypothesis,then experiment or test,lastly have the results tested by their peers.Unfortunately it sometimes refutes claims in our religious bibliography(Bible),but hey we know the Bible writers never claimed that their writings were infallible.We share our dna with mice and apes.Nothing to be ashamed of,if you love ALL animals.

  • @ @Bob & Trueblueandreal - 2010-10-28 13:09

    Each new fossil simply fills in gaps in the record. As some scientists have said, we are lucky even to have them, but they are not necessary to prove evolution by natural selection as an accurate model. Scientists have even predicted the discovery of intermediate fossils before they were found...and, hey presto, such fossils are eventually found. Oh, maybe the evil satan is tapping their phones or their e-mail account and as soon as the scientists declare the possibility of an intermediate fossil of some sort, then satan goes out and plants it there in the rock?? OK, as for Darwinian natural selection being questioned....of course it should be questioned....that's what scientists do. For one, in Darwin's day, science was not aware of DNA and the role it plays in the passing on of traits etc / mutations etc. As for the higher power being behind evolution, that is not entirely disputed by a great deal of scientists but a lot consider it unnecessary. Those scientists who consider it a possibility that a higher power was involved also make the plausible case that the higher power is completely indifferent to us and we may as well be virus or bacteria clinging to a speck of dust. It is strange how some religious folk can't just 'get' that concept of a god who is not interested in listening to our prayers nor intervening in our lives. Essentially, we also must consider the possibility that if there is in fact a god, he neither knows nor cares that we exist.

  • @ @Bob - 2010-10-28 13:14

    Scientists advance their theories as fact if they have been peer reviewed and tested in numerous ways. Why not see if any of your theories stand up to the Baloney Detection Kit - Google it.

  • @ thelostsheep - 2010-10-28 13:27

    I see you base your views on where Darwinian evolutionary theory was in 1959 compared to discoveries being made in the 21st century. That is what some would call advancement. Theories are questioned, refined and made more accurate. You make a good point however, seeing as the bible is more than 2000 yrs old, it is understandable why so many are becoming active dissenters as it so 'last millenium'. Also, on interpretation, how is it that if you ask 5 random christians from different churches their interpretation of a random bible verse, you will get often 5 different interpretations? Science is way more standardized and uniform than religion will ever be.

  • @@Bob - 2010-10-28 13:36

    Where did you get that stat Bob? The fact that we are here discussing this means that we were fortunate enough to have evolved on a world suitable to have life evolve. Now the probability of a god... now that is miniscule compared to a suitable world with life evolving "randomly"

  • Rod - 2010-10-28 13:37


    One thing puzzles me (I am a scientist by the way) To conclusively prove a hypothesis, I have to demonstrate that the model works after it has been rigorously tested via acceptable statistical means. That may require the testing of my model over a sample range of, say, 1000. Only then may one claim that the model exibits the dersired outputs of the hypothesis.

    What amuses me is that the Anthropologists scratch around, find a tooth (note - not teeth)of some extinct primate and are then able to prove their theories - sans statistical testing. Now, had they discovered numerous teeth which ably demonstrate facital development I would be the first to say that they are on to something. Finding only limited fossils and using these to prove a hypothesis flies in the face of all I have been taught.

  • Thabiso - 2010-10-28 13:54

    This scientists are the most confused people on earth, they claim to have discovered something then state it as a fact, but then make another discovery which always contradicts their previous discovery and then states it as the truth, they never admin to being wrong of their previous discoveries. Each new discovery they make they publish it as the truth until another scientist make another discovery then claims it as a fact.Monkeys are monkeys and humans are humans.

  • Thabiso - 2010-10-28 14:09

    @BOB the scientist model of evolution has no factual proof in it, how does as spicie that has given birth to its own spicie change and starts giving birth to something deferrent from itself, look at dogs you have small, big dogs, all the same spicie, if a pitbull has puppies with a jack russell a new kind of terrier will come out, there you can see a change or evolution of that spicie, so my question is how can a hairy monkey give birth to a human. If you mate a Lion and a tyger somekind of a liotyger will be born, but a monkey and a monkey will always give birth to a monkey. Humans dont some from monkeys

  • thelostsheep - 2010-10-28 14:10

    @ @thelostsheep...

    I base my views on life as revealed by current technologies. The problem I have is that when evidence is presented that is diametrically opposed to Darwinian thought, red blood cells in trex fossils as an example, then it is rejected. There are many examples such as this though abd my view is that evolutionary thought has become a protected religion and anyone who dares question it is either ridiculed or ousted. One cznnot compare historical science with operational science and attempt to justify what one assumed happened in the past.

  • @Rod & Thabiso - 2010-10-28 14:18

    @Rod - The wording of the article is quite clear in indicating that none of the discoveries are taken as fact just yet. They used words like 'suggest' & 'signals' and phrases such as 'appear to have' & 'we have the impression that'. Oh yes and they do say 'teeth', not just 'tooth'. A lot can be deduced from teeth by the way. A lot more than you may think.
    @Thabiso - Completely correct....monkeys are monkeys and humans are humans, but evolution and molecular DNA evidence clearly indicates that apes such as chimpanzees / bonobos and humans share a common ancestor. Also, what is it that bothers you most about scientists making new discoveries? That they don't apologize and admit they were wrong? Their acceptance of new evidence for research and review of their previous theories is in itself an admission they were wrong.

  • @Bob - 2010-10-28 14:42

    Many a peer reviewed theory has been proven incorrect, yet was believed to be fact by Scientists. Science is limited to the 5 senses. Why would a Higher power create a world in order to not just care about it. Doesnt make sense. The creation of this world through pure chance is less likely than the creation of a Boeing 747 by pure chance

  • Calvynal - 2010-10-28 14:52

    Just to put a spin on things, check out the movie Zeitgeist - interesting, very interesting.

  • habilis - 2010-10-28 15:08

    Note the article will be biased. I have learned that for every 100 scientists supporting a theory regarding a new find, there are 100 opposing it with a different interpretation.

    I personally would need to read more before I make up my mind about this story, but it sounds pretty good.

  • Thabiso - 2010-10-28 15:09

    @ My point is, if coming from common ancester what sparked the change, why would this common ancester give birth to deferrent specie than its own, if its an ape then why would the ape givng birth to chimps and humans, a specie can not just change and start given birth to hairy monkey and a human,unless a catalist is added, my wiled imagination leads me to thinking that some ancient race which today we refer to as the GODS added thier DNA into this Ape which in turn was able to give birth to something defferent from them, which from my observation with dogs you need some kind of DNA catalist to enable a specie to evolve or change.

  • Bob @ Thabiso - 2010-10-28 18:05

    I typed another post but it appears not to have made it to the thread. Anyway, I'll try again. Now to answer your question, I will use an analogy I read in a book by Richard Dawkins called The Greatest Show on Earth. Imagine taking a photo of a person each day from the day they are born until they are, let's say, 65 years old. Looking at the photos taken a day apart, you will not see any difference, but look at the photo from the day the person was born and compare it to the photo from their 65th birthday and you will not even be 100% sure it is even the same person because the differences will be so great. *End of analogy*. Now, you correctly pointed out that 2 chimpanzees will mate and create a baby chimpanzee, but this baby chimpanzee will have some ever so slight, most probably unnoticable differences in its genetic makeup/DNA and from one generation to the next, you will never tell the difference, but introduce slight variations like that over 25 000 generations into the future and you will certainly see the difference between the chimpanzee today and its future descendant 25 000 generations into the future. NB NB I am not saying chimpanzees evolved into humans, or even will evolve into something like a human. Your example with the dogs, or something at least similar, is also used in the book to illustrate evolution which can be facilitated through planned breeding and can take place over a much shorter time span. Hopefully this illustrates the point.

  • EUGENE - 2010-10-29 09:29

    We share allot of genes with allot of creatures. It does not mean we are evolved from them. And we share these genes with allot of creatures we also have other genes which we do not share. Its time that religious believes and scientific believes meets each other half way to truly understand where we came from. DO yourself a favor and go watch Quantum videos...even the scientists in those things admit there is a higher power...

    Stop following others words so blindly...have a look at both sides of the story and decide for yourself what do you believe...

  • @THABISO - 2010-10-29 13:28

    just to let you know thabiso,there is a tiger-lion hybrid.its called a liger.just thougt you would like to know.

  • @Eugene - 2010-10-30 16:37

    What? Stop following credible scientists and start following Quantum videos? What makes these Quantum videos more credible than the peer reviewed, credible research on Darwinian evolution? So now, about the higher power? Does this higher power even know or care we exist? or are we part of a big 6 billion piece chess game, for which god knows the location of every piece and sacrifices millions of pieces in earthquakes / tsunamis / disease outbreaks etc etc for the greater good, as we are all simply pawns in god's game? So was the 'higher power' lazy and did he use 'cut & paste' a lot when making our DNA?? So post a link to these 'Quantum' videos then why don't you?

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