November 21, 2019
Hominid evolution is a fascinating area of research that is frequently being updated as we learn more about our ancient ancestors. Gigantopithecus blacki once lived in Southeast Asian forests, before going extinct around 300,000 years ago. This huge hominid species, which stood at 10 feet tall, is known by a fossil record of four partial jaw bones and thousands of teeth.
Previous work has attempted to find out more about this huge species by comparing its bones to that of living great apes, but researchers from the Globe Institute have changed this. They were able to use proteome sequences from Gigantopithecus dental enamel and compare this to that of living great apes to find out more about their evolutionary relationships.
The proteins extracted from the ancient teeth allowed the researchers to conclude that Gigantopithecus and orangutans split from a common ancestor around 12 million years ago. This study proves that protein sequencing can be used to extract 2 million year old genetic information from primates, which is a vast improvement on the previous record of 10,000 years. There is no telling what new discoveries will be made about ancient species using this new technique!
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