Washington DC: A team of scientists has recently discovered a species of monkey fossil that has dated to be more than one million years old.
The discovery was made after the team recovered a fossil tibia (shin bone) belonging to the species of extinct monkey Antillothrix bernensis from an underwater cave in Altagracia Province, Dominican Republic.
The species was roughly the size of a small cat, dwelled in trees and lived largely on a diet of fruits and leaves.
Researcher Melissa Tallman said that they knew that there is a diverse extinct fauna on the Caribbean Islands, but dating the material has been difficult.
Tallman added that Antillothrix bernensis is one of two species of extinct primate on Hispaniola. Previously discovered primate material has all been dated to within the last 10,000 years. This new material is morphologically consistent with the previously collected material, but is dated to 1.3 million years ago."
The fossil was embedded in a limestone rock that was dated using the Uranium-series technique. Tallman, along with Andrea Morrow, '14, used three-dimensional geometric morphometrics to confirm that the fossil tibia did belong to Antillothrix bernensis.
This process helped them reconstruct how the small primate might have moved about in its environment and allowed the comparison of relatively young examples of Antillothrix bones to the newly discovered million-year-old specimens.
The research appears in Journal of Human Evolution.