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European Miocene Hominids and the Origin of the African Ape and Human Clade


  • David R. Begun,

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    • David Begun is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto, and currently serves as editor of the Journal of Human Evolution. He has worked on Miocene ape systematics, phylogeny, and functional anatomy for 30 years and has directed the excavations at Rudabánya since 1997.

  • Mariam C. Nargolwalla,

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    • Mariam Nargolwalla is a paleoanthropologist with a special interest in paleoecology and paleobiogeography. She received her Ph.D. in 2009. Her thesis explored the patterns of paleobiogeography in Miocene land mammals and their relationship to possible dispersals and range extensions in African and Eurasian fossil hominoids.

  • László Kordos

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    • László Kordos is director of the Geological Museum of the Geological Institute of Hungary. He is an expert on the vertebrate paleontology of Central Europe and the Pannonian Basin, in particular, and has hundreds of publications on topics ranging from dinosaur footprints to Pleistocene micromammal biostratigraphy. Kordos and Begun have been working together on the Rudabánya primates since 1989.


In 1871, Darwin famously opined, “In each great region of the world the living mammals are closely related to the extinct species of the same region. It is therefore probable that Africa was formerly inhabited by extinct apes closely allied to the gorilla and chimpanzee; and as these two species are now man's nearest allies, it is somewhat more probable that our early progenitors lived on the African continent than elsewhere.”1 Although this quote is frequently recalled today, Darwin's next line is rarely acknowledged: “But it is useless to speculate on this subject, for an ape nearly as large as a man, namely the Dryopithecus of Lartet, which was closely allied to the anthropomorphous Hylobates, existed in Europe during the Upper Miocene period; and since so remote a period the earth has certainly undergone many great revolutions, and there has been ample time for migration on the largest scale.”1