Re: Graecopith = savanna animal?


extant African great apes are evidenced by the fossil record to be of Sub-Saharan origins”


The fossil record suggests that Hominids with greater ability to travel during deforested periods, by desert, non arboreal environments or beaches and rivers, repopulated deforested areas where Hominids went extinct in the Upper Miocene, and formed genetic links with surviving pockets of Hominids by introgressions upon contact.”


“Graecopithecus appears to have introgresed well after initial divergence with Pan like North of the Sahara great apes”


Please could you reference the evidence are you referring to?






From: <> On Behalf Of alandarwinvanarsdale
Sent: Monday, May 2, 2022 5:39 PM
Subject: Re: [AAT] Graecopith = savanna animal?


While Hominin origins are not evidenced to be of Sub-Saharan, extant African great apes are evidenced by the fossil record to be of Sub-Saharan origins. Some European fossil great apes are more Pan like than anything known from Asia. Lufengpithecus morphologically is the most Hominin like, and orangutan like o any known great ape extant or fossil. And also shares sub-nasal morphology with African great apes. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________The fossil record suggests that Hominids with greater ability to travel during deforested periods, by desert, non arboreal environments or beaches and rivers, repopulated deforested areas where Hominids went extinct in the Upper Miocene, and formed genetic links with surviving pockets of Hominids by introgressions upon contact. Not a linear progression from Lufengpithecus to Hominins or orangutans and certainly Hominins did not evolve in a linear fashion from ancestral African great apes. _________________________________________________________________________________________________Graeacopithecus does not appear closely related to Pan, Graecopithecus appears to have introgresed well after initial divergence with Pan like North of the Sahara great apes. Early terrestrial bipedal Hominids in Africa appear to have been much more Gorilla like (Sahelanthropus especially) than Hominin like. African terrestrial bipedal Hominids became more Hominin like later as seen in australopithecines,which are hybrids of unknown Lufengpithecus close affinity Hominins from the North and East and African terrestrial bipedal great apes. ________________________________________________________________________________________________Short periods of genetic isolation between different gene pools of Hominids especially in the Upper Miocene, led to each gene pool being more distinct than before from the others until they made contact again and gene flow between the groups was reestablished. Orangutans unlike all other great apes in the period of around 4-9 mya maintained genetic isolation from both other great apes and Hominins so were unlike other Asiatic great apes (Meganthropus, Gigantopithecus, Lufengpithecus) were not assimilated genetically by Hominins. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________African great apes (ancestral Pan and Gorilla) were assimilated by Hominins in their terrestrial bipedal morphotypes (to become australopiths) and not in their more arboreal morphotypes though there was enough mixing extant African great apes have the ability to be bipedal at least in many individuals if bipedalism starts before full maturity, both in the wild and in captivity. _________________________________________________________________________________________________The fossil record for early Hominins is so incomplete it is impossible to place their geographic origins except they were Old World and not Sub-Saharan. Probably the origins of the earliest Hominins was very wide spread as a sort of Hominid adaptation to wide-spread deforestation and competition with monkeys in the Upper Miocene. 


On Mon, May 2, 2022 at 3:45 AM fceska_gr via <> wrote:

Böhme and her team are using the savannah like conditions of southern Greece as an argument that bipedalism arose on European savannah, thereby trying to reinvoke the savannah hypothesis in a new format, but they also write extensively about the clear evidence of water in the region without attributing it at all to hominin adaptations. Based on their papers and her book, I've written:


Graecopithecus freybergi, aka “El Greco”, is known from a mandible specimen found in 1944 near Athens, and a single fossil tooth found in Bulgaria in 2012. Graecopithecus lived approximately 7.1 – 7.3 million years ago at the beginning of the Messinian age, or the Tortonian-Messinian boundary.  It has some similarities with Ouranopithecus, enough for some to classify it as a sister or daughter taxon, but there are enough differences to justify giving it its own niche.  The jaw fossil shows that Graecopithecus had relatively small canines with shorter, more convergent roots, which is a characteristic of humans but not of great apes. The roots of chimpanzee canines are more splayed.

It has been suggested that El Greco might represent the last common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans, or even perhaps the first human ancestor after splitting from chimpanzees, and this despite the fact that it lived in Europe instead of Africa. Jochen Fuss from the Seckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment, Tübingen, Germany, Madelaine Böhme of the University of Tübingen, and David Begun, authors of the Graecopithecus study paper, believe that El Greco provides enough evidence to consider that gorillas, chimpanzees and humans may all have diverged in Europe and each migrated to Africa separately. Certainly, the evidence suggests that Graecopithecus was closer to hominins than Ouranopithecus: “We present evidence that Graecopithecus shares derived characters with hominins not found in Ouranopithecus. The most parsimonious interpretation of this distribution of characters is that Ouranopithecus predates the divergence of hominins and Graecopithecus.” 

In her book, Ancient Bones, Madelaine Böhme describes the environment that Graecopithecus likely inhabited. The single tooth from Bulgaria was found in the Upper Thrace Basin, which was filled by fluvial sediments, indicating a heavy water content. El Greco’s fossil jawbone was found at Pyrgos, Vassilis, in the Athens basin, surrounded on three sides by mountains and the coastline of the Saronic gulf to the south. It was lying about 1650 feet west of the paleo Kifissos river, which would have collected all the rainfall from the mountains and carried it out to the sea. In Pyrgos, Böhme’s team observed coarse gravel where the bones were found indicating that the Kifissos River at one time ran through that area before changing course. Signs that a large body of water, perhaps a lake, had once existed there were seen in the stone layers. Stratigraphic analysis of the rock layers shows that water ran throughout the basin for many millions of years. Numerous springs would have bubbled out of the surrounding limestone rock, and braided streams would have meandered across the basin to join the river on its way to the sea. During rainy periods there was so much water that much of the area would have been swampy marshland, with up to 24 inches, 600 litres per m2 falling per year in winter and spring, up to 33% more rainfall than today, while in the summer, the marshes would have dried out and encouraged savannah conditions.

The type environment of the basin is described as “species rich Mediterranean shrub savannah”. Based on analysis of soils and fossilised plant material, during El Greco’s time the landscape would have consisted of open spaces with tall tropical and sub-tropical grasses like those found today in Africa, and grassy meadows with dense pockets of plane tree, oak, and cypress woodland, as well as shrubs: holly, myrtle, tamarisk, ground elder, thistle and other herbaceous plants, all fringed by thick oak forest, palm, and pine trees. The temperature was on average 30 degrees centigrade, or 4 degrees warmer than current averages. Savannah fires during the dry season occasionally ravaged the landscape, as evidenced by tiny particles of fossilised charcoal, while heavy clouds of red Saharan dust blew over the Mediterranean, embedding El Greco’s bones in a thick layer of red mud.

As well as Graecopithecus, many species of fauna, similar to those found in Africa today, found their niche in this well-watered and nutrient rich environment. Large pig-sized hyraxes, gigantic elephant-like dinotherium and various species of suid (pig) would have foraged on the riverbanks or wallowed in the marshes, while short legged chilotherium rhinoceros, short-necked and long-necked giraffes, many species of antelopes, gazelles and 3-toed hipparion horses would have grazed in the meadows and open grasslands or clustered at the streams to drink. Enormous sabre-toothed cats would have selected out the weakest and sickest animals, sending panicked herds in all directions as they hunted, while hyenas and vultures scavenged and cleared up the dead and dying.

Analysis of Graecopithecus’ dentition showed that many of the teeth were worn down, and pushed tightly together, a sign that the individual was accustomed to eating tough, fibrous plant matter. Thick clusters of enormous cattails, up to 4 metres tall, would have grown out of the streams and riverbeds, along with rushes and sedges. Cattails would have formed a significant portion of El Greco’s diet. The stalks, shoots, flowers, leaves, roots and pollen are all edible, tasty and satisfying, although the stalks and leaves would have taken considerable chewing. They would have been available year-round, providing a good source of starches, proteins, sugars and vitamins. In addition, starchy acorns and many wild vegetables, such as sorrel, chickweed, purslane, sedge, ground elder, brassicas, and edible weeds likely formed part of Graecopithecus’ diet, along with insects, water snails, crustaceans or shellfish. According to Böhme, El Greco’s diet would have been closer to modern humans than to modern great apes.

Unfortunately, there are no post-cranial fossils of Graecopithecus so we cannot form much of a picture of how it moved, although its close affinity with Ouranopithecus, as well as the open landscape it lived in, suggests it was in all likelihood predominantly bipedal. Böhme argues that the open savannah-like landscape that Graecopithecus inhabited could be used to support previous savannah hypotheses of how hominins developed bipedalism, only this time, in Europe instead of Africa. With forests mostly gone and few wooded areas to provide refuge, it is likely that El Greco would have lost many of its arboreal features and spent much of its time out in the open, but the same problems that a defenceless hominin might have experienced out on the open savannah in Africa would also apply in Europe. With so many fast-running carnivorous predators, what hope for a bipedal ape? What Böhme and many others fail to consider, is that the water itself likely played a significant role, not only in how Graecopithecus adapted to a form of sustained terrestrial bipedalism, from wading through waist level streams to get to the cattails, but also in how it managed to survive and escape predation when it could no longer seek refuge in the trees. The dense islands of cattails themselves would have provided almost impenetrable barriers to terrestrial hunters.

To sum up, Graecopithecus potentially represents the oldest hominin so far recorded, and possibly the oldest habitual biped with diet and dentition more similar to ours than to chimpanzees. The only problem with it being accepted as a potential human ancestor is that it was not found in Africa. As stated by Böhme, Fuss, et al: “It is clear that if Graecopithecus were found in Africa instead of Europe, its age and morphology would be taken as evidence that it is the earliest known hominin. Chororapithecus is accepted by many as an early gorilla, despite a very fragmentary sample and the fact that much more complete fossils with gorilla-like attributes are known from Europe. But it is from Africa, where the earliest gorillas are supposed to be. The real problem is not morphology or preservation but a location that does not conform to the expectations of generations of palaeoanthropologists.”



-----Original Message-----
From: <> On Behalf Of Marc Verhaegen
Sent: Friday, April 29, 2022 6:33 PM
Subject: [AAT] Graecopith = savanna animal?

Messinian age and savannah environment of the possible hominin Graecopithecus from Europe Madelaine Böhme  cs 2017  doi org/10.1371/journal.pone.0177347

Dating  fossil hominids & reconstructing their environments is critically  important for understanding human evolution.
Here we date the  potentially oldest hominin, Graecop.freybergi from Europe, we constrain the environmental conditions under which it thrived.
For the Graecopithecus-bearing  Pikermi Fm of Attica/Greece, a saline aeolian dust deposit of  N.African (Sahara) provenance, we obtain an age of 7.37–7.11 Ma (co-eval with a dramatic cooling in the Med.region at the Tortonian-Messinian transition).
Palaeo-botanic proxies demonstrate  C4-grass-dominated wooded grassland-to-woodland habitats of a savannah  biome for the Pikermi Fm.
Faunal turnover at the  Tortonian-Messinian transition led to the spread of new mammalian taxa  along with Graecopithecus into Europe.
The type mandible of G.freybergi  from Pyrgos (7.175 Ma) & the single tooth (7.24 Ma) from Azmaka  (Bulgaria) represent the first hominids of Messinian age from  continental Europe.
Our results suggest that major splits in the hominid  family occurred outside Africa.

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