Research by a team of scientists from Moroccan and Spanish universities has led to the discovery of a 2.5 million year old macaque fossil in Guefait, Morocco.
The six cercopithecid teeth that the researchers discovered “date back more than 2.5 million years and are of a morphology that allows them to be assigned to the genus Macaca,” wrote the catalan Diari Mes website.
Based on the size of their teeth, the species are estimated to have a weight of 12 kilos. Their morphology matches that of one current living species: the Barbary macaque, Macaca sylvanus.
The macaques belong to the papionine tribe along with baboons, geladas and mangabeys. They are the most widely spread primates on earth.
Their remains are commonly found in North Africa, where they are estimated to have lived for 6 or 7 million years. But they can also be found in Europe, where they migrated due to the Messinian Salinity Crisis over 5.5 million years ago.
The pleistocene Ain Beni Mathar of Guefait, Morocco, is an open wet environment. The paleontological site has given rise to many archeological and paleontological discoveries.
Over the past three years, Morocco and Spain have collaborated on numerous excavation campaigns. The collaboration has resulted in the discovery of more than 3,200 vertebrate fossil remains (amphibians, reptiles, and small and large mammals, including elephants, rhinos and hippos, among others).
The latest major discovery in Morocco happened on January 20, 2021. Researchers from Cambridge University and scientists from the University of Western Australia discovered a precious fossil in the Fezouata shale of the Anti-Atlas Mountain range. The fossil dates back 480 million years, according to a study published in the Royal Society journal.