BEIJING, August 4 (Xinhuanet) – A team of Ugandan and French scientists has discovered the fossilized remains of a tree-climbing ape some 20 million years old, in Uganda's Karamoja region. The fossil is thought to be a remote cousin of modern apes.
The scientists discovered the remains on July 18th while looking for fossils in the remnants of an extinct volcano in Karamoja, a semi-arid region in Uganda's northeastern corner.
Dr. Martin Pickford, French anthropologist, said, "I would say this is a highly important fossil from that point of view, it would certainly put Uganda on the map, Uganda was already on the map but this will now make it global am sure and a lot of interest will be generated by this in scientific field and am sure also in culture and heritage."
Pickford said preliminary studies of the fossil showed that the tree-climbing herbivore, roughly 10 years old when it died, had a head the size of a chimpanzee's but a brain the size of a baboon's.
Pickford also said the remains will be stored under tight security.
Dr. Martin Pickford said, "So the original fossils will be stored in a vault in Kampala, its too precious to leave lying on a displayed somewhere because unfortunately some people like either to steal or destroy things like these, so the original fossils will be kept in a high security place and what will be put on display will be a model or a replica of the specimen."
Paleontologists from France have been visiting Uganda on expeditions funded by the French government for the past 25 years.