Nsungwepithecus gunnelli is an early cercopithecoid represented by a tooth and jaw fragment.
Prior to these finds, the oldest fossil representatives of the hominoid and cercopithecoid lineages were recorded from the early Miocene, at sites dating millions of years younger.
The team's findings document the oldest fossils of two major groups of primates: the group that today includes apes and humans (hominoids), and the group that includes Old World monkeys such as baboons and macaques (cercopithecoids).
primate eats mainly leaves and fruits, and is found exclusively in mangrove swamps and forests near marshes on the island of Borneo (Indonesia).
(1988): Habitat and locomotion in Miocene cercopithecoids
. In: A.
1982: Chromosomal phylogeny of forty-two species or subspecies of cercopithecoids
The history and chronology of Siwalik cercopithecoids
In the Iberian Peninsula, simians (anthropoids) are not recorded until well within the Miocene (late Aragonian), being represented by pliopithecoids (a Eurasian clade of stem catarrhines) as well as hominoids (apes and humans), whereas cercopithecoids (Old World monkeys) are recorded from the latest Miocene onwards.
9 Ma, Egarapithecus represents the last record of a Miocene primate in Iberia before the occurrence of cercopithecoids.
By the Early and Middle Miocene, cercopithecoids were already distinct but much less diverse than hominoids, but from the Late Miocene onwards, their disparity, geographic distribution and paleodiversity increased dramatically (Szalay and Delson, 1979; Jablonski, 2002; Eronen and Rook, 2004; Jablonski and Frost, 2010).
The new species, according to the scientists, sheds light on the evolution of the superfamily Pliopithecoidea, primates that include animals that diverged before the separation of the two current superfamilies: the cercopithecoids
(Old World monkeys) and the hominids (anthromorphs and humans).
Using this system Vincent Sarich and Allan Wilson showed, in 1967, that the gorilla and the chimpanzee were closer to humans than to other simian species, such as the cercopithecoids
. One of the problems of this system is that it does not directly measure the difference between two proteins (which are primary products of the genes).