A new great ape with startling resemblances to African members of the hominin tribe, excavated from the Mid-Vallesian Dinotheriensande of Eppelsheim. First report (Hominoidea, Miocene, MN 9, Proto-Rhine River, Germany)
In September 2016, two teeth of an up to now undescribed member of the Hominoidea have been uncovered from sediments of the Proto-Rhine River near Eppelsheim, Germany, the type locality for the Eppelsheim Formation (i. e. Dinotheriensande) and of 25 mammals of various systematic positions. Together with other finds from Eppelsheim and the Wissberg location, which is only 18 km away, these are the northernmost occurrences of Miocene primates in Europe. Both teeth, the crowns of an upper left canine and an upper right first molar, are exceptionally well preserved and obviously come from the same body of unknown sex. Their sedimentologicalenvironment and the accompanying faunal elements point to an age shortly before the Mid-Vallesian crisis at ca. 9.7 Ma. While the molar shares characters with various other taxa, the canine reveals intriguingly potential hominin affinities: its lingual outline is clearly diamond-shaped; its ratio of lingual height / mesiodistal length is within the range of Australopithecus afarensis, Ardipithecus ramidus, Ardipithecus kadabba, and females of Pan troglodytes. The relative size of the canine, i. e. the ratio of the buccal heights of C and M1, is similar to those of e.g. Dryopithecus sp., Ankarapithecus meteai but also Ardipithecus ramidus. Both, reduced size and shape of the canine likely indicate that the new species from Eppelsheim had lost a honing (C/p3) complex already ca. 9.7 Ma ago. From all information gathered up to now, the question arises, if the newly discovered Eppelsheim species may be related to members of the African hominin tribe.