Early humans may have evolved as prey animals rather than as predators, suggest the remains of our prehistoric primate ancestors that were devoured by hungry birds and carnivorous mammals. The discovery of multiple de-fleshed, chomped and gnawed bones from the extinct primates, which lived 16 to 20 million years ago on Rusinga Island, Kenya, was announced today at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology's 70th Anniversary Meeting in Pittsburgh.
At least one of the devoured primates, an early ape called Proconsul, is thought to have been an ancestor to both modern humans and chimpanzees. It, and other primates on the island, were also apparently good eats for numerous predators. “I have observed multiple tooth pits and probable beak marks on these fossil primates, which are direct evidence for creodonts and raptors consuming these primates,” researcher Kirsten Jenkins told Discovery News.