Ugandapithecus fossil unearthed, thought to be 20 million years old

Nov 29, 2011

On the 18th of July this year, a combined team of French and Ugandan palaeontologists, working in the remnants of an extinct volcano in Iriri, Karamoja in the north-east of Uganda, discovered the skull of an ancient, tree-climbing ape while sifting through a layer of volcanic ash deposited around 20 million years ago.

“It is the first time that a complete skull of this kind has been found,” explained Martin Pickford, a member of the team which made the discovery.

What makes the discovery so significant is that it is the most complete discovery of anything of this old, making comparisons among our earliest ancestors and evolutionary cousins easier. By giving researchers a more complete picture of the very distant past, it is hoped that this discovery will provide the launch pad for further discoveries concerning the origins of Hominids as we know them. It is also hoped that the species' climatic adaptations could teach us about the ancient environment in which this particular specimen may have found itself.

One of the researchers, Bridgette Senut, professor at the Musee National d'Histoire Naturelle, told a press conference that the remains would be cleaned and prepared in France, before being x-rayed and documented, prior to their return to Uganda in roughly a year's time.

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