Did the last common ancestor of great and lesser apes live in Asia or Africa?

In 1998 Disotell and Stewart proposed that the last common ancestor of all apes (great and lesser) lived in Eurasia, not Africa. http://www.nyu.edu/publicaffairs/newsreleases/b_Human.shtml I have not read the paper (“Primate evolution - in and out of Africa.” Current Biology 1998 Jul 30-Aug 13;8(16):R582-8.)

It seems to me this might explain something that has long puzzled me: That orangutans are found in SE Asia, far from their close relatives in Africa (gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, and the earliest humans) but near their more distant relatives (gibbons and siamangs).

Which model is the current mainstream thinking, and based on what evidence?

This is the one that paleoanthropologists fight about. What you want is a cladistics expert. And that ain’t me.

AAMOF, I’m not even sure how you’d go about finding a proper expert. A place to start might be here. Prof. Brace lists “The Emergence of “Modern” human morphology” as one of his two continuing research interests, so I’m sure he’s cognizant of who/where the experts on the hominoids are (they could be in either biology or anthropology departments, for one thing). I don’t recommend you ask his colleague, Milford Wolpoff. Prof. Wolpoff’s answer to your question would be “yes”. :stuck_out_tongue:

Another good place to ask the questions might be either in the paleoanthro NG, or talk.origins. Of course, you have to watch out for the AAT folks. :dubious:

OTOH, here’s a quick answer from Planet of Life Series: Apes to Man (site is part of the University of Georgia node; you may already know that UGa is home to a number of labs using both apes and monkeys). This page also has a link to my favorite theory of human evolution - the Pliocene Pussycat Theory. To avoid hijacking this thread, I’ll simply say that I have several links to earlier versions and commentaries available upon request. I don’t have the nerve to start a PPCT thread unless solicited :slight_smile: :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m only doing half your research for you. :cool: But you may recall seeing documentaries about research with chimpanzees using computers to talk? Some of that is done in Georgia (fersure), and I think its home is at UGa.

Discussion of this topic at some length

Origins of Modern Humans: Multiregional or Out of Africa By Donald Johanson?

I think tygerbryght and astro may be misinterpreting bibliophage’s question to some extent. The sites you reference mostly refer to the recent evolution of Homo sapiens from earlier forms; bib is asking about a much earlier period in anthropoid evolution.

I can’t say for sure what the “mainstream” thinking is on the issue at the moment, since the idea is relatively new and it can take some time for a consensus to change. However, a recent popular article in Scientific American (August 2003), “Planet of the Apes,” by David R. Begun, presents the same scenario as the article cited in the OP.

Apes originated in Africa, one of the best known early forms being Proconsul. They first seem to have migrated into Eurasia in the Miocene, about 16.5 million years ago. There they gave rise to a number of forms, including the ancestors of modern gibbons/siamangs, that of orangs (Sivapithecus) plus other including Ouranopithecus and Dryopithecus. Begun contends that one of these two latter Eurasian forms was probably ancestral to the African Great Apes plus humans. One character he mentions is that the face, relative to the braincase, “tilts downwards” (klitorhynch), as opposed to the condition in orangs, gibbons, and Proconsul in which the face tilts upwards (airorhynch). It is postulated that one of these two forms migrated back to Africa and gave rise to gorillas/chimps.

Here is a link to a pdf of a recent article on Dryopithecus with technical information on its characteristics.

Kordos, L., and Begun, D. R. 2001. A new cranium of Dryopithecus from
Rudaba´nya, Hungary. Journal of Human Evolution 41: 689–700

Primate Evolution - pdf file - Text book chapter

:confused: Eh?? The first lines below the below the family tree are:

That’s why I gave the link. Assuming this is taking into account the most recent fossil finds, it is the answer, period. Since it appears to be used for some courses, it probably is. I will point out that it is what appears in the text astro’s second link leads to, which says “after 16 m.y.a.”. However, since the OP wanted to know

(emphasis added)

I looked up a paleoanthropologist - one whom I know to be very distinguished, and who researches in a very closely related field. I said:

because I know from associating with anthros (in addition having majored in it) that the paleos don’t differentiate that much between how they view hominoids and hominids, at least in terms of following each other’s research.

Then I suggested the OP check with some of the research institutes affiliated with U of Georgia, as there is a famous colony of chimps in GA. IIRC, U/GA is also responsible for a colony of macaques that is maintained on a (nearby?) island. If there are no anthropologists or zoologists who are up to speed on current theories of the spread of hominoids (the correct term for the apes; human ancestors are hominids), I’ll be very surprised.

I did understand what the OP was asking,

Or at least I thought I did. :confused:

… and I very carefully addressed the issue. Not that I’m dissing the info Colibri posted, not in the least. I’ve filed the link (and astro’s), gratefully. YNK when you’ll want this stuff. :slight_smile: OTOH, that paper is three years old (and astro’s is four). Not only is Loring Brace likely to know about finds that haven’t even been published yet, but he will also know about papers that have been published in journals that aren’t available except by (highly expensive) subscription.

Incidentally, the worst thing about a textbook is that it is always out of date by the time it’s published. That’s because of the long lead-time needed by publishers. Journals have a somewhat shorter one, but I know from the experience of friends who actively publish research that refereed journal articles must go through the peer review process (allow at least two months, and realistically more like 5 or 6, assuming the jurors are all conscientious about turning them around, and none has questions), then be scheduled into an issue, usually at least four more months. I spent, altogether, 11 years working with faculty in two different large universities, both of which have fairly stringent guidelines on faculty research/publication. In addition to working closely with a researcher in a different field, who continued to research and publish, even though she’d become emerita. I watched the manuscripts go out and the requests for revisions (hate ta tellya how often faculty tear their hair out over revisions) come back. Sometimes a paper will get revised 3 or 4 times, depending on how determined the writer is, and how new/controversial the research field and/or findings may be.

IOW, if the OP asks Prof. Brace nicely, s/he will wind up knowing more than any of us here do about it. Or maybe we can get a report back? :slight_smile:

No, that doesn’t address the OP at all. All the part you quoted says is that some apes migrated from Africa to Europe and Asia 15 mya, and that the first hominids originated in the Pliocene. It doesn’t say anything about where the last common ancestor of all apes lived, which is what concerns the OP. Most of the info on the page is about the emergence of the genus Homo in any case, which is much later. This is why I said your site was mainly related to that - there is very little on anything else, and no really substantive information even on that.

Regarding the suggestion to contact Loring Brace, as well as other research institutes, well, sure bibliophage could do that, and he might, if he were doing a Staff Report on the subject. But that involves a fair bit of effort, with no guarantee that Dr. Brace will even respond, or give a definitive answer if he does. Asking the question here is a good bit easier!

And it also doesn’t guarantee that Brace will give the “mainstream” opinion - for all you or I know, he could be well out of the mainstream on this particular subject. The only real way to know what the mainstream opinion is is to read the journals in paleoanthropology over a number of years. But I suspect that this particular hypothesis is still so recent that no real consensus has developed as yet.

I don’t mean any offense, but your reply hasn’t convinced me that you do.

Tell me about it! I’m in the middle of revising a journal article for publication right now after a hatchet-job by a hostile reviewer - it’s cost me several months of extra work to prove that his objections don’t hold up.

My apologies. We read the OP differently. And the way you phrase it, it’s clear to me now. I would have thought it would be assumed until proven wrong that the primate spp. which predominated in Africa @ 15m.y.a. is the one. I suspect that particular identity could be ascertained either from your link or astro’s, possibly both.

Certainly it is. I do the same thing. But when nobody shows up saying “I am a paleoanthropologist,” or “I am a primate evolutionary zoologist,” or even “I’m a student of <whichever>,” it tends to indicate there is no such expert on this board.

It has been my experience that if I write a polite email to an academic, I get a useful answer, whether it’s the answer to my question, or a suggestion to contact someone else. I’ve never had a problem with non-responses, although it might take two or three weeks. I automatically assume that anyone else who tries a similar method will get similar results. :slight_smile: Doesn’t answering the public’s “dumb questions” count as “service to the profession/public” at your school? It’s one of the performance standards/categories for credit in peer reviews at every higher education institution I know about.

AFAIK, Brace is pretty mainstream. Wolpoff isn’t anymore (his ideas about human evolution don’t make sense from a genetics standpoint - basically it boils down to scattered groups of pre-humans all having similar mutations at similar times, along the “when it’s time to railroad …” principle), although he seems to be popular enough as a grad advisor.

My sympathies. Have you got a good supply of aspirin or other headache remedy? And coffee? And supplies of your favorite recreational beverage? :slight_smile:

I hope you won’t be offended if I offer a suggestion? Aren’t you sufficiently established yet that you can ask for one of a list of 3 or 4 reviewers to review it? If not, if your “union ticket” is sufficiently new (or even ABD), you could maybe ask your dissertation chair to intercede? It happens, you know. If not, it may take putting a senior colleague as co-author in order for them to be able to arm-twist on your behalf. :confused:

There are always ways, you know. :slight_smile: And if you’re up for P&T at the end of your probationary period, your dissertation chair has a vested interest in helping you publish. Above a certain level of seniority, faculty P&T committees look at how many grad students the individual has mentored, and some even ask former students.

Glad we cleared that up. It has been assumed that the last common ancestor of the modern Great Apes lived in Africa. It’s the more recent evidence by Kordos and Begun and others that has called this view into question, by proposing that the most recent ancestor could have been Eurasian, as indicated by features of Dryopithecus.

Your experience is very different from mine, then. While some academics will respond, they are often very busy, and some can be very difficult to get a response from. I’ve had problems getting responses from some when researching Staff Reports (even when I don’t mention The Straight Dope). In my own work, I often have to wait months, or nag, to get responses from my colleagues, even ones I am collaborating with. Personally, when I get these kinds of questions, I try to answer them, but sometimes it’s just not possible to respond due to the press of other business.

I work at a research institute (Smithsonian), not a university. While “service to the profession/public” may be taken into account during performance reviews (not “peer review,” which usually refers to review of publications), that usually includes service as an officer of scientific societies, boards, etc. I’m not aware of any academic institution that would dream of evaluating a professor/researcher on the basis of how well he/she responds to random e-mail inquiries from the general public! And for most academic and research institutions, “service to the public” as a criterion for evaluation is overwhelmingly outweighed by publications and grants.

My first publication in a scientific journal was in 1976, and I got my Ph.D. in 1980. I’m quite familiar with the peer-review process, and serve as a reviewer myself - I am the “senior colleague” on this article. I’m sure the article will be accepted for publication with the revisions I’ve made. The problem was a bit of “territoriality” on the part of two of the reviewers - this is my first publication on the geographical area on which they are experts (West Africa), and they are notorious for being hyper-critical of “competing” researchers. It’s just a nuisance, is all.

I’m not sure where you are getting your ideas on the peer-review process. While one may sometimes be able to suggest suitable reviewers who have the appropriate knowledge of the subject on which you are writing, especially if it’s particularly esoteric, the editor doesn’t need to take these suggestions. Many reviews are anonymous. Senior researchers may have a somewhat easier time getting articles published based on name recognition, but no one is immune from a bad review. Having to make revisions on an article submitted for publication is routine.

I see. Sounds like interesting changes in the wind. I’ll hafta watch for new stuff coming out.

I’m sure you’re right. I’ve seen territorial defenses among academics that would be admired by one of the great cats. :wink:

I have never seen a manuscript review that wasn’t theoretically anonymous. However, it is often possible to recognize either a person’s writing style or (academic/scientific) biases, or their hot buttons, or some combination thereof. And I agree that revisions are routine, but you seemed to be rather angsty, which is why I was trying to help (guess I’m just a compulsive do-gooder). :smack:

I spent five of my eight years on the campus of one of the “top 100” research institutions working in the office of one (soc sci) department and doing path bacty research in an immuno lab. And the immunologist, though she was senior and quite respected in her very specialized field, seemed never to have learned the knack of … how do I put this? … getting editors to treat her better than a flunky. Many of the brightest academics are so lacking in people/bureaucratic skills that they spend their professional lives feeling abused by both the journal editors and the bureaucracy - and often by their colleagues, as well. OTOH I spent some years working in regional offices of large insurance companies, and had mentors in two of those offices - totally without “kissing up.” And I’ve been thinking of myself as relatively lacking in social skills. I guess I know more than I thought? :dubious: About work life, at least. :frowning:

Then I spent seven years working (admin support) in a departmental office of a large “regional” university. Among other things, I was the one who had sufficient compassion on newbie faculty & instructors to tell them, frex, what kind of students they could expect (in that school, it’s a bimodal distribution - really good and relative dregs of those who succeed in gaining admission, which I think may be par for the course for “regional” schools.) I was also the one who oversaw the incoming apps in searches for 8 or 9 different postings in 7 years. And the one who managed the confidential (departmental, i.e., academic) personnel files of the dept’s faculty. I know some stuff that I still would never discuss. It’s amazing the things faculty can do - or neglect - and be protected by their tenure. I only knew the locations of about half the skeletons in the departmental closet at the first institution, but at the second there was so much rivalry between the fields that no skeleton was ever left unexcavated. I didn’t officially know anything about one tenured faculty member’s academic probation (that person hadn’t actively offended; merely failed to keep up standards of scholarship and teaching). That was opposed to another who would have been arrested, had that person’s offense occured anywhere except on campus.

I got that job partly because two of the tenured faculty were personal friends, who had assured the new chair that I could handle lots of stuff for her. And, during the first few years I was there, I was the one who did final prep work on nearly all outgoing manuscripts - until I taught most of the faculty how to do their own WP. And I budgeted for and selected computers (it took most of the years I was there, as budgets were … not generous, but after the first few years, other depts started copying my strategy) for all the tenure-track people. For half the time I was there, I had a boss who was more interested in playing campus politics, and (to keep the dept in good odor with the dean) so I did budgets and made sure the nasty :rolleyes: paperwork (class scheduling was the most important bit, 3x a year) all got done. I did an enormous amount of faculty hand-holding, as they soon became aware that I did not gossip. I saw a lot of “please review and revise” forms/letters. And mine was the shoulder that got cried on when second and third revision requests came back from the same editor(s).