Friday, June 22, 2018

[PaleoMammalogy • 2018] Junzi imperialis • New Genus of Extinct Holocene Gibbon associated with Humans in Imperial China

 Junzi imperialis
Turvey, Bruun, Ortiz, Hansford, Hu, Ding, Zhang & Chatterjee, 2018

Although all extant apes are threatened with extinction, there is no evidence for human-caused extinctions of apes or other primates in postglacial continental ecosystems, despite intensive anthropogenic pressures associated with biodiversity loss for millennia in many regions. Here, we report a new, globally extinct genus and species of gibbon, Junzi imperialis, described from a partial cranium and mandible from a ~2200- to 2300-year-old tomb from Shaanxi, China. Junzi can be differentiated from extant hylobatid genera and the extinct Quaternary gibbon Bunopithecus by using univariate and multivariate analyses of craniodental morphometric data. Primates are poorly represented in the Chinese Quaternary fossil record, but historical accounts suggest that China may have contained an endemic ape radiation that has only recently disappeared.


Samuel T. Turvey, Kristoffer Bruun, Alejandra Ortiz, James Hansford, Songmei Hu, Yan Ding, Tianen Zhang and Helen J. Chatterjee. 2018. New Genus of Extinct Holocene Gibbon associated with Humans in Imperial China. Science. 360(6395); 1346-1349. DOI: 10.1126/science.aao4903

The noblewoman's ape
Human activities are causing extinctions across a wide array of taxa. Yet there has been no evidence of humans directly causing extinction among our relatives, the apes. Turvey et al. describe a species of gibbon found in a 2200- to 2300-year-old tomb ascribed to a Chinese noblewoman. This previously unknown species was likely widespread, may have persisted until the 18th century, and may be the first ape species to have perished as a direct result of human activities. This discovery may also indicate the existence of unrecognized primate diversity across Asia.

Vanished ape found in ancient Chinese tomb, giving clues to its disappearance
Chinese grave reveals vanished gibbon genus
Ancient Royal Tomb Yields Strange New Ape Species via @NatGeo
Ancient Chinese tomb reveals previously unknown extinct species

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