The Japan Times, February 1, 1997
Thai fossil undermines human origin theories
LONDON (Reuter) The discovery of ancient primate remains in Thailand suggests that humanity's closest cousins developed in several different places at once, Thai and French scientists reported Wednesday.
The findings could strengthen the contentious argument that humans evolved separately in several different places at once, rather than in Africa, the researchers said.
The scientists, from the Department of Mineral Resources in Bangkok and the Institute of Evolutionary Sciences at Montpellier University in France, said a 35-million-year-old jawbone and teeth represented the remains of a primate weighing between 6 kg. And 7 kg.
Previous finds had suggested that primates originated in the area that is now Myanmar or in North Africa.
Some anthropologists reckon humans may have evolved in several different areas.
The researchers, reporting in the science journal Nature, said their discovery of Siamopithecus oecaenus showed "Southeast Asia has definitely played a key role in the early evolution of anthropoids."
Anthropoids include the great apes such as orangutangs, gorillas and chimpanzees, as well as humans.
Stephane Ducrocq from Montpellier said the fossils, found at a mine in Krabi, southern Thailand, resembled the remains of primates found in North Africa, and indicated movement between the two areas occurred during the Eocene Epoch, between 34 million and 55 million years ago.
"And in that case, it can be supposed that the ancestor of the Thai fossil primate might have originated in Africa, and evolved locally in Southeast Asia," Ducrocq said.