Gorilla Fossil Indicates Human Split 10 Million Years Ago

First Posted: Feb 11, 2016 01:42 PM EST

The discovery of gorilla teeth fossils has revealed new evidence that the gorilla-human spilt took place 10 million years ago. In the latest study, international researchers discovered several gorilla teeth fossils in the in Ethiopia's Chorora Formation, which date back to about 8 million years ago.

Previous studies have shown the human-chimp split occurred as recently as 5 million years ago and the gorilla-human split took place between 7 and 8 million years ago. However, the findings indicate that one of the splits occurred much earlier than previously thought.

Nine prehistoric gorilla teeth were discovered in 2007 at the Chorora Formation, which most likely belong to an extinct species known as "Chororapithecus abyssinicus." After making this discovery, the researchers have examined rock samples and sediments particles from the formation. These analyses could enable the researchers to date the teeth.

The team believes that the teeth date back to about 8 million years ago. They're the oldest group of mammalian fossils that have been found in the south of the Sahara desert area. These findings also indicate that apes and humans originated in Africa and not Eurasia, as some studies have indicated.

The researchers claimed that since the C.abyssinicus is approximately 8 million years old, the spilt with human most likely occurred 10 million years ago, which is much further back than previously thought.  

The findings of this study were published in the journal Nature.

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