Menu

SAMUEL TURVEY/ZSL

Bones in Ancient Tomb Are of Newly Discovered Ape Genus

The now-extinct gibbon was buried with the grandmother of China’s first emperor and her many pets.

Jun 21, 2018
Kerry Grens

ABOVE: Skull of Junzi imperialis, a newly described extinct gibbon from China

A skull extracted from a 2,200-year-old tomb in China represents a newly identified—and already extinct—gibbon, Junzi imperialis, paleontologists report today (June 21) in Science. Its human companion in the crypt is thought to be Lady Xia, the grandmother of China’s first emperor Qin Shihuang.

“I don’t doubt for a second that it’s a new species, and probably a new genus,” Thomas Geissmann, a gibbon expert at the University of Zurich who was not involved in the study, tells Science. “We can assume that this vast area of central China [once] had many other species.”

Lady Xia’s tomb, discovered in 2004, held a menagerie of remains—leopard, lynx, black bear, crane, and other animals that were buried with her. Several years ago, Samuel Turvey of the Zoological Society of London was visiting Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology in China when he encountered the gibbon skull. Not allowed to extract DNA from the remains, Turvey and colleagues instead built a 3-D scan of the bones and compared it to data from other gibbon genera.

Junzi’s distinctive molars and other cranial features set it apart from other known gibbons. “It’s clearly a weird specimen,” John Fleagle, a primate anatomist at Stony Brook University who did not participate in the study, tells National Geographic.

Not only did the researchers find that Junzi is quite different from other gibbons, but it’s also no longer around. “[T]here is no evidence that gibbons have lived in the region where this specimen was found for many hundreds, if not thousands, of years,” coauthor Helen Chatterjee of University College London tells The Atlantic.

July 2019

On Target

Researchers strive to make individualized medicine a reality

Marketplace

Sponsored Product Updates

DeNovoMAX - NRGene's new genomics tool to meet a major agbio need:
DeNovoMAX - NRGene's new genomics tool to meet a major agbio need:
NRGene has launched a new product that aims to empower breeding and maximize agricultural yield as part of the Denovo assembly product suite offered by the company.
Overcoming the Efficiency Challenge in Clinical NGS
Overcoming the Efficiency Challenge in Clinical NGS
Download this white paper to see how an ECS lab serving a network of more than 10,000 healthcare providers integrated QIAGEN Clinical Insight (QCI) Interpret to significantly reduce manual variant curation efforts and increase workflow efficiency by 80%!
Veravas Launches Product Portfolio to Mitigate Biotin Interference and Improve Diagnostic Assay Accuracy
Veravas Launches Product Portfolio to Mitigate Biotin Interference and Improve Diagnostic Assay Accuracy
Veravas, Inc., an emerging diagnostic company, launched a portfolio of products that can improve the accuracy of current diagnostic test results by helping laboratory professionals detect and manage biotin interference in patient samples with VeraTest Biotin and VeraPrep Biotin.
New Data on Circulating Tumor DNA as a Biomarker for Detecting Cancer Progression Presented at 2019 ASCO Annual Meeting
New Data on Circulating Tumor DNA as a Biomarker for Detecting Cancer Progression Presented at 2019 ASCO Annual Meeting
Scientists presented more than 30 abstracts featuring Bio-Rad’s Droplet Digital PCR (ddPCR) technology at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago, May 31–June 4.