New species of great apes discovered in Germany

New species of great apes discovered in Germany

Gorillas, chimpanzees and other great apes are usually associated with Africa (or Asia in the case of orangutans), but Europe was once home to some of the largest apes on the planet, and a new species has recently been discovered.

This new great ape, called Buronius manfredschmi, has never been seen before and is estimated to weigh 10 kilograms, making it the smallest ever classified in this category. Research published in Plus one It is estimated that the animal lived about 11 million years ago.

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Scientists found samples of the new species in a mud pit in Hammerschmid, southeastern Germany, in a layer dating back to the late Miocene era.

Tooth samples collected indicate that the Poronius were skilled tree climbers who ate a diet of soft foods such as tree leaves.

Poronius Manfredschmiede's fossilized teeth indicate that he was a really small man. Boehm et al., PLOS ONE 2024 (CC-B 4.0)

Another great ape also lived in the same place

An interesting detail is that Poronius was not the only primate who lived in the area. In 2015, researchers identified evidence of Danuvius guggenmosi, another previously unknown species of ape, at the same archaeological site.

This means that the two animals shared the area during the same period. Scientists believe that they lived in harmony because they had different customs. The Danuvius had an upright skeleton, suggesting that they were bipedal and lived mainly on land, while their more recent counterpart may have been a powerful climber.

Great apes, which are now found only in Africa and Southeast Asia, were once present in Europe, but became extinct during the late Miocene, the period between 11.63 million and 5.33 million years ago, when there was major climate change on the mainland and food became rare.

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