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Monkeys and humans more closely related, new species disovery suggests

Humans and monkeys may have diverged more recently than scientists have thought, a partial primate skull discovered in Saudi Arabia suggests.

A primate skull fragment discovered in Saudi Arabia suggests that the lineages of monkeys and humans split later than had been previously thought, indicating that Old World monkeys, such as this Japanese snow monkey.

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Our lineage might have diverged from our monkey relatives later than previously thought, a new primate fossil from Saudi Arabia now suggests.

One key step in understanding human evolution is pinning doing when the hominoid lineage, which includes apes and humans, diverged from the Old World monkeys.

"If we can refine our understanding of the date of split between hominoids and Old World monkeys and eventually get a better idea of what was happening with the ecology, climate and composition of co-occurring mammals at that time, we will learn about the conditions driving our own ultimate origins," researcher William Sanders, a paleontologist at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, told LiveScience.

Genetic analysis of humans, monkeys and other primates had placed the split at roughly 35 million to 30 million years ago, during the early Oligocene period. However, the fossil record from the mid-to-late Oligocene, some 30 million to 23 million years ago, had previously provided little evidence supporting the timing of the divergence.

Primate skull

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