Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.


Skull secrets of an ancient ape

This article has been updated

Fossil evidence is scarce for early stages of evolution in the ape family tree at the time before apes and the ancestors of humans diverged. A 13-million-year-old skull now offers insights into ape development at that time. See Article p.169

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: An ancient ape skull.

A, Isaiah Nengo; B, Fred Spoor

Change history

  • 23 August 2017

    The credit information for Figure 1a was incorrect. The photo should have been credited to Isaiah Nengo. This has now been corrected.


  1. See all news & views


  1. Stephens, N. J. et al. Nature 497, 611–614 (2013).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  2. Hartwig, W. C. (ed.) The Primate Fossil Record (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2002).

    Google Scholar 

  3. Nengo, I. et al. Nature 548, 169–174 (2017).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Brunet, M. et al. Nature 418, 145–151 (2002).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Casanovas-Vilar, I., Alba, D. M., Garcés, M., Robles, J. M. & Moyà-Solà, S. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 108, 5554–5559 (2011).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Gonzales, L. A., Benefit, B. R., McCrossin, M. L. & Spoor, F. Nature Commun. 6, 7580 (2015).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  7. Harrison, T. in The Primate Fossil Record (ed. Hartwig, W. C.) 311–338 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2002).

    Google Scholar 

  8. Spoor, F. et al. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 104, 10808–10812 (2007).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Gervais, P. C. R. Acad. Sci. Paris 74, 1217–1223 (1872).

    Google Scholar 

  10. Szalay, F. S. & Delson, E. Evolutionary History of the Primates (Academic, 1979).

    Google Scholar 

  11. Hürzeler, J. Verh. Naturforsch. Ges. Basel 69, 1–47 (1958).

    Google Scholar 

  12. Hürzeler, J. Schweiz. Palaeont. Abh. 66, 1–20 (1949).

    Google Scholar 

  13. Köhler, M. & Moyà-Solà, S. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 94, 11747–11750 (1997).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  14. Rook, L., Bondioli, L., Köhler, M., Moyà-Solà, S. & Macchiarelli, R. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 96, 8795–8799 (1999).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Hürzeler, J. Triangle 4, 164–175 (1960).

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. von Koenigswald, G. H. R. Fossil Vertebr. Afr. 1, 39–51 (1969).

    Google Scholar 

  17. McCrossin, M. L. Int. J. Primatol. 13, 659–677 (1992).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Brenda R. Benefit.

Related links

Related links

Related links in Nature Research

Palaeoanthropology: What teeth tell us

Palaeoanthropology: On the origin of our species

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Benefit, B. Skull secrets of an ancient ape. Nature 548, 160–161 (2017).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing