Evidence of a chimpanzee-sized ancestor of humans but a gibbon-sized ancestor of apes

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Grabowski, Mark; Jungers, William L.
Year of Publication: 2017
Journal: Nature Communications
Volume: 8
Issue: 1
Pagination: 880
Date Published: 2017/10/12
Publication Language: eng
ISBN Number: 2041-1723

Body mass directly affects how an animal relates to its environment and has a wide range of biological implications. However, little is known about the mass of the last common ancestor (LCA) of humans and chimpanzees, hominids (great apes and humans), or hominoids (all apes and humans), which is needed to evaluate numerous paleobiological hypotheses at and prior to the root of our lineage. Here we use phylogenetic comparative methods and data from primates including humans, fossil hominins, and a wide sample of fossil primates including Miocene apes from Africa, Europe, and Asia to test alternative hypotheses of body mass evolution. Our results suggest, contrary to previous suggestions, that the LCA of all hominoids lived in an environment that favored a gibbon-like size, but a series of selective regime shifts, possibly due to resource availability, led to a decrease and then increase in body mass in early hominins from a chimpanzee-sized LCA.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-017-00997-4
Short Title: Nature Communications