Prehistoric Gibbon Ancestor Discovered in Pakistan

A new genus and species of primate has been unearthed in Pakistan!

The animal, named Kapi ramnagarensis, was found in Ramnagar, a mountainous region within the province of Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan. This particular specimen has been identified from a single molar. Scientists were able to place it within the Miocene period, a time in which gibbons are theorized to have been migrating from the jungles of prehistoric Pakistan to what is now Southeast Asia. This find is particularly exciting as it pushes back the known evolution of gibbon primates by approximately 5 million years, giving us deeper insight into the evolution of these animals.

A modern relative of Kapi ramnagarensis, the critically endangered Black-Crested Gibbon. Image Credit: New England Primate Conservancy

This find better puts into perspective just how important the fossil sites of Pakistan are when studying the evolution of mammals. Miocene Pakistan would have been an extremely biodiverse area. Known to exist in this region and time period were large open savannas, floodplains, and steaming jungles. Animals living alongside Kapi (that we know of) were prehistoric orangutans, hyenas, entelodonts, chalicotheres, elephants, and a multitude of small rodent-like mammals. This region would have been an incredible area full of some of the Miocene’s most iconic sights. It is my personal hope that work continues to be done within Pakistan as scientists expose what exciting findings remain, waiting to be discovered.

CT scan images of the molar of Kapi ramnagarensis in various views. Image Credit: Christopher Gilbert

 

  • Christopher C. Gilbert et al. 2020. New Middle Miocene Ape (Primates: Hylobatidae) from Ramnagar, India fills major gaps in the hominoid fossil record. Proc. R. Soc. B 287 (1934): 20201655; doi: 10.1098/rspb.2020.1655
  • “Black Crested Gibbon.” New England Primate Conservancy. Accessed September 10, 2020. https://www.neprimateconservancy.org/black-crested-gibbon.html.

 

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