General, Research, Technology

Why didn’t the ancient monkeys walk on two legs and live on trees?

In one of our previous articles, wetalked about how modern monkeys learned to walk on two legs. This is really a very interesting topic to study, because millions of years ago our distant ancestors moved exclusively with the help of four limbs and practically did not climb trees. One of these ancient primates was the so-called Oreopithecus (Oreopithecus bambolii), whose remains were previously often found in different regions of Italy. Paleontologists have long wondered why these ancient primates could not walk on two legs and why they did not move through tall trees, like their modern descendants. The answers to these questions were finally given by an international group of scientists from Italy, Spain, the USA and Switzerland.

This is what the ancient monkeys looked like in the artist’s view

According to a scientific journal calledProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, to find the answer to questions of interest, the researchers studied one of the most complete skeletons of Oriepithecus. This species of ancient monkeys was discovered back in 1872 and scientists were able to find out that they lived on the territory of modern Italy about 8.3 million years ago. It is believed that the most complete skeleton of this ancient primacy at the moment belongs to a 30-kilogram male, found in 1958 during coal mining.

Oreopithecus bones (Oreopithecus bambolii)

Why weren't the ancient monkeys upright?

After examining the remains, the researchers concludedthat the upper part of the ancient monkeys was very similar to the body structure of modern gibbons. These humanoid primates predominantly live in the forests of Southeast Asia and have fairly long arms, with the help of which they quickly move between trees. However, unlike modern apes, ancient primates had five lumbar vertebrae, not four. The remaining parts of the skeleton of the oreopithecines were practically indistinguishable from the features of the Afropithecines and giantopithecines that lived at the same time.

Modern gibbons live mainly on trees

According to researchers, the structure of the pelvis studiedancient monkeys were great for walking on two limbs. They are sure that the skeleton of the Oreopithecus could allow them to learn upright walking much easier and faster than modern monkeys. Only now, their bones were not stiff enough, so they had no choice but to walk on four limbs.

The most complete skeleton of an oreopithecus (Oreopithecus bambolii)

Do you know that monkeys can eat rats?

As to why they didn’t live ontrees, the answer to this question is quite simple. The fact is that 8.3 million years ago, in the so-called Miocene era, the ancestors of modern monkeys had virtually no enemies and they could easily move around the earth. In addition, researchers believe that at that time there were a lot of open areas on our planet, and there were very few sites with a large number of trees.

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Researchers made sure that the ancientsthe monkeys preferred an earthly way of life, having studied the changes in the shape of the bones and joints of their arms and legs. They were indeed deformed, which suggests that primates preferred to move, resting their limbs on the ground. If they often grabbed tree branches, deformations would occur on the inside of their hands. Most likely, the main habitat of the oreopithecus was swampy areas.