Wednesday, 3 August 2011

New Species of Ancient Primate

The holotype fossil of Ugandapithecus major
20 million years ago, near the crater of an active volcano in the Karamoja Region, Uganda, lived a small and, until now, previously unknown species of primate. Its remains were discovered on July 18 by a team of palaeontologists sponsored by the French government. It has been taken to France to be cleaned, x-rayed and fully analysed, but a preliminary field study has shown that it was a male, tree climbing herbivore and was 10 years old when it died. Its skull was the size of a chimp, but its brain was smaller. Dr Martin Pickford from the College de France, Paris and his colleague, Brigette Senut have given it the taxonomic name of Ugandapithecus major. Pickford said to journalists in Kampala that 'it is a highly important fossil and will certainly put Uganda on the map in terms of the scientific world. He also stated that the fossil would be returned from France to Uganda after a year of study.