It seems that important questions are about to be answered, as China solves evolution puzzles. On Thursday, scientists revealed that half-dozen primate fossils have been discovered in the southern part of the country. After the estimations of the scientists, the creatures lived there approximately 34 million years ago.
This finding is important because it might help researchers understand a big enigma. Why did the human species appear in Africa if our ancestors have emerged in Asia? Humans appeared in Africa approximately 200,000 years ago. At some point in time, anthropoids moved from Asia to Africa, but it is not understood why. Anthropoids are the precursors of humans, and we have 45 million years old primate fossils to account to that.
Although scientists have fossils from the Eocene-Oligocene, not much was known about the primates of the early Oligocene. But now we can say that China solves evolution puzzles by providing scientists with new study material.
Because the climate of the world was in a greenhouse state during the Eocene, primates thrived. This happened everywhere in the world. But then came the Oligocene era, and temperatures began to fall. This event was most likely caused by a rearrangement of Earth’s tectonic plates. This then caused a drop in temperature and humidity in most of the globe’s parts. It is exactly the opposite of what people are worrying today, because we are currently trying to cope with global warming. As Asia’s climate got colder and drier, primates have gone extinct in many regions. Those that survived were inhabiting regions around the tropics and the equator. That is why the fossils found in southern China are from the Oligocene era. Primates are more sensitive to climate change than other mammals.
Had it not been for this extreme cooling, anthropoids would not have transitioned to Africa, but continue to thrive in Asia. Because anthropoids are linked to us, humans, and to monkeys and apes, their study is crucial for researchers. The discovery of fossils such as those found in southern China fill gaps in our evolutionary road. It also shed light on just how much vulnerable us, primates, are to climate change. If the change in temperature was enough for anthropoids to go extinct, when will climate change dramatically affect us? And to what extent?
IMAGE SOURCE: Wikipedia