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MUFONET-BBS GROUP - MUTUAL UFO NETWORK ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ARCHAEOLOGY NEWS - WIRE ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 旼컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴컴커 =START= XMT: 15:10 Mon Mar 30 EXP: 15:00 Tue Mar 31 쿑OSSIL OF MAN'S OLDEST ANCESTOR ON DISPLAY AT MUSEUM OF 쿙ATURAL HISTORY 쿙EW YORK (MARCH 30) UPI - The fossilized jawbone of a 쿾rehuman newly found in Africa goes on exhibit Tuesday at 퀃he American Museum of Natural History, the first of its 쿮xtreme antiquity ever exhibited in the United States. 쿚n loan from Namibia, the yellowish lower right jawbone of 쿽tavipithecus namibiensis (Otavi ape) with three molars and 쿪 pair of biscuspids was found ast June in an abandoned mine 쿭ump in northern Namibia by a joint American-French 쿾aleontology team including geologist John Van Couvering of 퀃he American Museum 쿟ests showed the fossil to be about 13 million years old. It 쿶s that of a primitive apelike creature which may provide 쿬lues to the ''missing link,'' the common ancestor from whom 쿺odern apes and humans were derived some five to 10 million 퀉ears ago. ''The presence of a wisdom tooth tells us that it was a 쿯ully mature animal,'' said Van Couvering, who described 쿚tavi ape as a 10-year-old male who weighed between 30 and 40 pounds and stood 2 1/2 feet tall. ''The thin teeth enamel shows that it was adapted for a diet 쿽f fruits, berries and soft leaves.'' 쿔nternatinal experts met at the museum Monday to inspect the 쿯ossil and discuss its significance as a member of an almost 퀅nkown prehuman group, the kenyapithecines, direct ancestors 쿽f the African great apes and humans, according to museum 퀂pokeswoman Elizabeth Chapman. 쿟he fossil is being exhibited in the museum's Hall of 쿛rimates to illustrate the first step in the evolutionary 퀂plit between humans and their closest animal relatives. It 퀇ill remain there for two months before being returned to 쿙amibia where it will be accessible only to experts. ''It's a wonderful opportunity to see a very significant 쿯ind,'' Chapman said. 쿌ccording to Van Couvering, the Otavi ape jawbone is the 쿯irst such fossil ever discovered south of the Equator and 쿽pens up a whole new area of Africa for the search for 쿴ominoid fossils. 쿔t also is the first fossil of its kind ever to be put on 쿭isplay in the United States. All previous prehuman finds in 쿌frica have been confined to display in Kenya. 쿔n addition to molars and bicuspids, the jawbone includes 퀃he broken root of a large tusk-like fang and sockets for a 퀁ow of incisers at the front of the jaw. It comes from a 쿺uch more primitive creature than ''Lucy,'' the best known 쿽f humanoid remains, found in Ethiopia and dating from 4 쿺illion years ago. ''We're looking back across a vast chasm of time with only a 쿯ew scraps of bone to guide us, said Van Couvering. ''Otavipithecus closes that gap by a million years.'' 쿚n display with the fossil are other fossils found in the 쿺ine dump with Ottavi ape which show something about his 쿮nvironment and enabled scientists to date their find, along 퀇ith photographs of the discovery site. There also is a 쿭isplay of rare and spectacular minerals found in the mines. =END=


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