The Million Year Old Monkey

Alongside and international team we have recently dated a species of fossil monkey found across the Caribbean to just over 1 million years old. The discovery was made after colleagues in America recovered a fossil tibia (shin bone) belonging to the species of extinct monkey Antillothrix bernensis from an underwater cave in Alttagracia Province, Dominican Republic.

The fossil was embedded in flowstone that we dated using the U-series technique to an age of 1.3±0.11 million years. Our paper, published in the Journal of Human Evolution, explains how 3D geometric morphometrics are used to confirm the fossil tibia does indeed belong to Antillothrix bernensis, a primate that we now know existed on Hispaniola relatively unchanged for over a million years. This work answers one of the great questions of bio-geography showing Antillothrix to have existed on Hispaniola morphologically unchanged for over a million years, changing the understanding of primate evolution in this region. Prior to these discoveries in Altragracia we knew almost nothing even though this species was first described back in 1977!