My Dad, scientist. Ape-human divergence determined to be even longer ago.

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Dad always said he thought that human beings split from apes way back, farther back in time than scientists reported it when such estimates first made it into the public.

And indeed, every few years in my memory while Dad was alive, new evidence pushed the evolutionary divergence farther back.

Here we go again.

E++99 writes in to let us know about a development in paleo-anthropology. It seems that up until now, scientific consensus has placed the divergence of man from the ape line five to six million years ago (based on "genetic distances"). But newly discovered fossils in Ethiopia place the divergence at least twice as far back, and perhaps as long ago as 20 million years. They also largely put to rest any doubts that man and modern apes both emerged from Africa. From the article: "The trail in the hunt for physical evidence of our human ancestors goes cold some six or seven million years ago... Beyond that... fossils of early humans from the Miocene period, 23 to five million years ago, disappear. Fossils of early apes especially during the critical period of 14 to eight million years ago were virtually non-existent — until now... [T]he new fossils, dubbed 'Chororapithecus abyssinicus' by the team of Japanese and Ethiopian paleo-anthropologists who found them, place the early ancestors of the modern day gorilla 10 to 10.5 million years in the past, suggesting that the human-ape split occurred before that."

From Slashdot.