Fossils of the smallest monkey-species discovered in Kenya
Fossils of the smallest monkey species known as Nanopithecus browni that existed about 4.2 million years ago have been found in Turkana.
In a statement to the newsrooms on Friday, the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) said the fossils were found at Kanapoi archeological site.
“The discovery of Nanopithecus browni reaffirms Kenya’s contribution to understanding the evolution and diversity of Pliocene fauna and the environmental contexts in which they lived,” said Dr. Manthi.
“This new enigmatic member of the primate family reveals that dwarfing occurred far longer ago than scientists suspected, and may have happened more than once, and in very different habitats perhaps for different reasons,” said the report.
The fossils have been named after the late Prof. Francis H. Brown (University of Utah).
The scholar was known for his enormous contribution to understanding the geological history of the Omo-Turkana Basin.
Nanopithecus browni is the second oldest monkey-group of guenons which are commonly found Africa.
Archeologists say it is the smallest among modern Talapoin monkeys that are only distributed in the West African region. It weighs about one kilogram.
Although guenon evolution is unknown to many scientists, it is said to be driven by changes in forest habitats, the statement reads.
The distribution of modern species reflects the breakup and re-convergence of ancient forests, it adds.
Speaking about the discovery, the NMK in the report termed the discovery as a way of unveiling more information about evolution.
Konopai region is a palaeontological site previously known for the first human fossils Australopithecus anamensis discovered in the 1960s.
The fossil is currently housed at the National Museums of Kenya and published in the Journal of Human Evolution.
The discovery was made by the West Turkana Paleo Project and led by Dr. Fredrick Kyalo Manthi of the National Museums of Kenya, in collaboration with Drs. Carol V. Ward of the University of Missouri, and J. Michael Plavcan of the University of Arkansas.