Oldest great ape found in Spain, according to news@nature 18 November 2004, Science vol 306, p1339 19 November 2004, BBC News 18 November 2004 and New Scientist 27 November 2004, p17. Salvador Moya-Sola of the Miquel Crusafont Institute of Palaeontology, Barcelona, and colleagues have found the fossilised bones of a previously unknown ape in sedimentary rocks at Brranc de Can Vilan near Barcelona in Spain. It has been named Pierolapithecus catalaunicus and has been dated as Middle Miocene period, about 13 million years old – the oldest known fossil ape. The creature had a mixture of features seen in different kinds of apes today. It had a short body with a stiff spine and strong wrists, indicating it was good at tree climbing and could lift itself into a standing position, but its fingers were not long enough for swinging through trees. It was about the size of a female chimpanzee, but had a face like a gorilla. It also had some monkey-like features indicating it walked on all fours, putting its fingers down flat. (Present day apes are knuckle walkers.)

Because it has a mixture of features Professor Moy-Sol claims: “Pierolapithecus probably is, or is very close to, the last common ancestor of great apes and humans.” Apes are traditionally believed to have evolved in Africa, but there were many species of apes in Europe in the past. According to the BBC article: “During the Miocene, Earth really was the planet of the apes. As many as 100 different ape species roamed the Old World, from France to China in Eurasia and from Kenya to Namibia in Africa.”


Editorial Comment: This newly discovered creature with its mixture of features is actually a good example of how each kind of living organism is a unique combination of non-unique features. The find also fits with the creation account in Genesis, which tells us living creatures were separately created according to their kinds. The fact that this creature and many of the other “100 different ape species that once roamed the world” are now extinct is no help to evolution either. A change from many species to fewer species is the opposite of evolution, but it fits Biblical history which tells us the world has been degenerating since the Fall of Man and Noah’s Flood. Overall, Biblical creation is a better basis for explaining the diversity and geographical range of both fossil and living creatures. (Ref. apes, fossils, Spain)