Dryopithecins, Darwin, de Bonis, and the European origin of the African apes and human clade

David R. BEGUN

en Geodiversitas 31 (4) - Pages 789-816

Published on 31 December 2009

This article is a part of the thematic issue Louis de Bonis: 50 years of paleontological research on mammals

Darwin famously opined that the most likely place of origin of the common ancestor of African apes and humans is Africa, given the distribution of its living descendents. But it is infrequently recalled that immediately afterwards, Darwin, in his typically thorough and cautious style, noted that a fossil ape from Europe, Dryopithecus, may instead represent the ancestors of African apes, which dispersed into Africa from Europe. Louis de Bonis and his collaborators were the first researchers in the modern era to echo Darwin’s suggestion about apes from Europe. Resulting from their spectacular discoveries in Greece over several decades, de Bonis and colleagues have shown convincingly that African ape and human clade members (hominines) lived in Europe at least 9.5 million years ago. Here I review the fossil record of hominoids in Europe as it relates to the origins of the hominines. While I differ in some details with Louis, we are in complete agreement on the importance of Europe in determining the fate of the African ape and human clade. There is no doubt that Louis de Bonis is a pioneer in advancing our understanding of this fascinating time in our evolutionary history.


Mammalia, Primates, Dryopithecus, Hispanopithecus, Rudapithecus, Ouranopithecus, hominine origins, new subtribe

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