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The evolutionary context of the first hominins

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Abstract

The relationships among the living apes and modern humans have effectively been resolved, but it is much more difficult to locate fossil apes on the tree of life because shared skeletal morphology does not always mean shared recent evolutionary history. Sorting fossil taxa into those that belong on the branch of the tree of life that leads to modern humans from those that belong on other closely related branches is a considerable challenge.

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Figure 1: Hypothetical trees.
Figure 2: Phylogenetic tree for extant orang-utans ( Pongo ) and fossil pongines.
Figure 3

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Acknowledgements

Support was provided by the GW Vice-President for Academic Affairs and to the GW Selective Excellence Program (to Provost and B.W.) and the NSF (BCS-0309513) (to T.H.). We thank R. Bernstein, J. DeSilva, T. Kivell, D. Pilbeam and B. Richmond for their critical comments and suggestions.

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Wood, B., Harrison, T. The evolutionary context of the first hominins. Nature 470, 347–352 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature09709

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