Ape fossils discovered in Turkey may just prove Charles Darwin wrong

Ayaan Paul
Ayaan PaulSep 04, 2023 | 12:35

Ape fossils discovered in Turkey may just prove Charles Darwin wrong

In a plot twist that Charles Darwin would probably raise an eyebrow at, a controversial new study has unearthed an 8.7-million-year-old ape skull, challenging the age-old notion that our ape-like ancestors exclusively hailed from the African continent.

Recent research has cast doubt on the long-standing belief that the ancestors of humans and African apes originated solely in Africa. The study focuses on an 8.7-million-year-old skull of an ape called Anadoluvius turkae discovered in Cankiri, Turkey. This partial skull has researchers scratching their heads and rewriting some of their favorite evolutionary tales.


Traditionally, the prevailing view in paleoanthropology, inspired by Charles Darwin, has held that hominins, which encompass African apes and humans, had their origins in Africa.

  • This belief was supported by the fact that the earliest hominins were found in Africa, where all living non-human hominines reside.
  • Early hominins and their fossil ancestors are not seen in Africa until around a million years after the origins of the newly discovered Anadoluvius turkae.

But Anadoluvius turkae throws a curveball into the mix. It suggests that maybe, just maybe, our ancestors had a European vacation long before they became globe-trotters.

According to Professor David Begun, a paleoanthropologist from the University of Toronto, this fossil indicates that hominins could have spent over five million years honing their evolutionary skills in Europe, venturing into the eastern Mediterranean, and eventually packing their bags for Africa.

  • The team’s analysis also suggests that the Balkan and Anatolian apes evolved from ancestors in western and central Europe.

This discovery doesn't slam the door on the debate; it merely adds another layer to it. To seal the deal on this European origin story, we'll need more fossils from the 8 to 7-million-year-old period on both sides of the Mediterranean.

Anadoluvius turkae, with its estimated weight of 110 to 130 pounds and a preference for dry forests and likely ground-dwelling behavior, certainly lived an interesting life. Its story emerged from the dusty pages of scientific journals when discussed in Communications Biology.

Despite this intriguing discovery, some experts, like Professor Chris Stringer from the Natural History Museum in London, maintain that it does not fundamentally alter our understanding of the origins of humans and great apes, emphasizing that the debate on this topic has been ongoing for a long time.

Last updated: September 04, 2023 | 12:56
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