A joint operation undertaken by archaeologists from South Africa and United States has led to the discovery of a baboon’s skull dating more than 2 million years. The fossil has been unearthed in South Africa at Malapa – Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.
Malapa is the same site from where partial skeletons of new early hominin species, Australopithecus sediba, were discovered in 2010. Dr Christopher Gilbert who discovered the fossil said that baboons are known to have co-existed with humans at several localities in East and South Africa. The fossil belongs to Papio angusticeps which is closely related to modern baboons and quite possibly to members of modern baboon species Papio hamadryas.
Studies indicate that baboons are estimated to have diverged from their closest relatives around 1.8 to 2.2 million years ago. Modern baboons are subdivided into six different populations found around sub-Saharan African and Arabian Peninsula.