Scientists have used 3-D computer imaging to unlock the secrets of the 15-million-year-old monkey skull. The skull was discovered in 1997 on an island in Lack Vitoria in Kenya. Thanks to advancements in technology scientists have now been able to study the skull like never before.
The skull – Victoriapithecus, is an ancient Old World monkey, a family of primates that includes baboons and macaques.
Researchers from Duke University and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology were able to crate a 3-D model of the monkey’s brain by using high-resolution X-ray imaging.
They found out that Victoriapithecus had a much brain much smaller than the existing monkeys of today, in fact it was half the size.
Researchers were also able to find astonishing levels of complexity, due to the brains numerous wrinkles and folds.
Victoriapithecus must have had a more developed sense of smell than the modern monkey due to its olfactory bulb, which turned out to be three times larger than expected.
“In the part of the primate family tree that includes apes and humans, the thinking is that brains got bigger and then they get more folded and complex,” Lauren Gonzales, co-author of the study, said in a statement.
However she added that this study proves that monkey’s evolution was sort of reversed, meaning their complexity came first and later the bigger brains.
The research study was published on Friday in the journal Nature Communications.