Quirks & Quarks

The Real Planet Of The Apes

Canadian anthropologist David Begun suggests that some important elements of human evolution took place outside of Africa, before coming home, and then leaving again.

Our distant ancestors might have moved in and out of Africa

Chimpanzee at the Leipzig Zoo (Thomas Lersch, cc-by-sa-3.0)
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We know that humans and chimpanzees, our closest living relative, evolved from a common ape ancestor, more than seven million years ago. It is also widely believed that the birthplace of that common ancestor was Africa. Today, aside from us and chimps, the only other living Great Apes are gorillas, chimps, bonobos and orangutans.
However, during the Miocene Epoch, approximately 23 to 5 million years ago, fossil evidence suggests there were at least 100 different genera of ape, many of whom lived throughout Europe. This supports a contentious theory by Dr. David Begun, a paleoanthropologist at The University of Toronto.

In his new book, The Real Planet of The Apes: A New Story of Human Origins, the author suggests that apes migrated out of Africa to Europe for a period of ten million years. It was there where anatomical hallmarks of humans - including large brains - first took form, before our human ancestors returned to Africa.

Related Links

- The Real Planet of the Apes - Princeton University Press
Publisher's Weekly review
- Kirkus Review