Biology

New Fossil Evidence Provides Oldest Complete Skeleton of Primate

Distant human ancestor was tiny, hyperactive

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New fossil evidence of the earliest complete skeleton of an ancient primate suggests it was a hyperactive, wide-eyed creature so small you could hold a couple of them in your hand — if only they would stay still long enough.

The 55-million-year-old fossil dug up in central China is one of our first primate relatives and it gives scientists a better understanding of the complex evolution that eventually led to us. This tiny monkey-like creature weighed an ounce or less and wasn't a direct ancestor. Because it's so far back on the family tree it offers the best clues yet of what our earliest direct relatives would have been like at that time, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.