For a long time, the major hypothesis surrounding human evolution was that ancient anthropoids all eventually migrated out of Africa and into Asia and Europe. More recently, however, discoveries of diminutive primates in Asia have put this hypothesis in question. A recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes 4 fossilized teeth discovered in Myanmar that are incredibly similar to teeth from another primitive anthropoid found in Libya. The Myanmar teeth are slightly more primitive and date back to about 38 million years ago, which is similar to the dating of the Libyan primate. The authors of the study describing the Myanmar teeth suggest that multiple species of anthropoids migrated from Asia to Africa 37 million to 39 million years ago. They suggest that perhaps once anthropoids arrived in Africa, with its lush conditions, there was a sudden burst of speciation.
I’m always fascinated by findings of ancient anthropoids and the evolution of our ancestors. However, it’s a tricky game to play because there is so little data. The story presented above is based off of four molars, which is not very much to go by. But based on what we’ve got, it seems like a logical conclusion. I look forward to reading about more fossils that are found in Asia to support this new out-of-Asia hypothesis