ABOVE: A virtual 3-D model of a gibbon skull with the vestibular apparatus in red

Three-dimensional imaging of the inner ear cavities of 27 species of monkeys, apes, and humans finds that these structures indicate evolutionary relationships and can potentially be used alongside the fossil record and DNA in phylogenetic reconstruction, according to a study published on March 3 in eLife.

“The findings highlight the potential of the inner ear for reconstructing the early branches of our family tree,” according to a summary from the journal. “They also offer the prospect of refining the controversial evolutionary relationships within the impressive diversity of extinct ape species.”

Variations in the shape of the vestibular apparatus in living and fossil primates

A. Urciuoli et al., “The evolution of the vestibular apparatus in apes and humans,” eLife, doi:7554/eLife.51261

Amy Schleunes is...

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