This is ‘Alesi,’ the 13-million-year-old baby monkey, mankind’s earliest ancestor.
Discovered in ancient rock layers, by Kenyan fossil hunter John Ekusi, in the Napudet area, in the north of Kenya.
Above, the skull of Alesi, the new extinct ape species Nyanzapithecus alesi. Credit Fred Spoor
Alesi with dental picks and brushes. Credit Isaiah Nengo
The research was published in the journal Nature:
Here we report on the, to our knowledge, most complete fossil ape cranium yet described, recovered from the 13 million-year-old Middle Miocene site of Napudet, Kenya. The infant specimen, KNM-NP 59050, is assigned to a new species of Nyanzapithecus on the basis of its unerupted permanent teeth, visualized by synchrotron imaging.
Co-author Craig Feibel, Professor of Geology and Anthropology at of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, added: “The Napudet locality offers us a rare glimpse of an African landscape 13 million years ago.
“A nearby volcano buried the forest where the baby ape lived, preserving the fossil and countless trees. It also provided us with the critical volcanic minerals by which we were able to date the fossil.”
The Alesi skull. Credit Christopher Kiarie