Ancestor

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Just recently, the news media announced the discovery of a 13 million-year-old fossil ape called Alesi. This remarkable fossil was found in Kenya, and it’s from a time period where there’s a big blank spot in the fossil record of our family tree. Alesi tells us something new about the very early evolution of apes and even shows what the common ancestor of humans and all the other living apes might have looked like. In this episode, Isaiah Nengo tells the story behind the discovery.

Special thanks to Isaiah Nengo of the Stony Brook University affiliated Turkana Basin Institute and De Anza College. And Ellen Miller of Wake Forest University.

The Leakey Foundation

Origin Stories is a project of The Leakey Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding human origins research and outreach. Support this show and the science we talk about with a tax-deductible donation.

Links

Click here to see photos of the discovery, along with a 3D animation of the inside of the fossil.

New 13 million-year-old infant fossil ape skull sheds light on ape evolution

Questions and answers about Alesi

Skull secrets of an ancient ape

Research article in Nature: New infant cranium from the African Miocene sheds light on ape evolution

Credits

Produced by: Meredith Johnson and Shuka Kalantari

Editor: Julia Barton

Sound Design: Katie McMurran

Theme Music: Henry Nagle

Intern: Yuka Oiwa

Additional Music: Tech Toys by Lee Rosevere

Sponsors

This season of Origin Stories is made possible by support from Dixon Long.

Transcripts are provided by Adept Word Management. They are a small, family-run business based in Houston, Texas. They have been long-time supporters of this show, and they were impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Please visit Adept Word Management for your transcription needs.

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31 episodes available. A new episode about every 30 days averaging 22 mins duration .