TechScientists uncover unknown Great Ape species in Germany

Scientists uncover unknown Great Ape species in Germany

Illustrative photo
Illustrative photo
Images source: © Unsplash

8:13 PM EDT, June 10, 2024

Anthropologists have discovered remains belonging to a previously unknown great ape named Buronius manfredschmi. This find, consisting of two teeth and one kneecap, was unearthed in the Hammerschmiede clay pit in southeastern Germany. According to IFL Science, research indicates that this ape lived about 11.6 million years ago, in the late Miocene. Interestingly, Buronius manfredschmi was the smallest representative of the great apes, weighing around 22 pounds.

Buronius manfredschmi is an ancient hominid and part of the ancestral family that gave rise to modern humans, gorillas, and chimpanzees. In the exact location where these remains were found, the remains of Danuvius guggenmosi, another great ape species that walked on two legs, were previously discovered. Differences in the anatomy of these two species suggest that they occupied different ecological niches and led different lifestyles, allowing them to share the same habitat.

Ancient hominid from Germany

This unique discovery makes Hammerschmiede the only known location in Europe from the Miocene era where more than one species of extinct great ape coexisted. The discoverers hope their work will inspire others to re-examine European fossils, which may hold evidence of the coexistence of various ape species. In the article published in the journal "PLoS ONE," scientists note that little is currently known about Buronius manfredschmi.

Experts have determined that a small, agile predatory ape likely fed on soft foods such as leaves. Climate changes occurring around 9 million years ago in Europe may have contributed to the extinction of this and other European great ape species, as forests gave way to grassy savannas.

Despite the limited information gathered about Buronius, its discovery sheds new light on the evolutionary history of great apes and their settlement in Europe millions of years ago. It reminds us that many secrets of our past still lie buried underground, waiting to be unearthed by curious scientists.

Related content