South African Journal of Science
On-line version ISSN 1996-7489
Since the discovery of Orrorin tugenensis in the Late Miocene Lukeino Formation, Tugen Hills, Kenya, it is generally admitted that the origin of bipedal hominids occurred earlier than 6 Myr ago and that the adaptation to bipedal stance and locomotion initially occurred in a forested or well-wooded setting. In Africa, eight localities aged between 13 and 5.5 Myr have yielded hominoid fossils belonging to nine species. We here report the occurrence of a Late Miocene hominoid in Niger, associated with a restricted fauna which indicates an age of c. 11-8 Myr. The Niger fossil locality is 940 km north of the nearest known extant hominoids, and 1000 km west of the nearest recorded fossil hominoid from Chad. The scientific value of the Niger specimen resides in its discovery locus far from any other known fossil hominoids, its Late Miocene age and the attention that it will focus on the Neogene fossil record of West Africa, currently almost unknown.