F Rosa Rubicondior: Creationism in Crisis - How Hominoid Apes Co-Existed in Germany 12 million Years Before 'Creation Week'.

Monday 10 June 2024

Creationism in Crisis - How Hominoid Apes Co-Existed in Germany 12 million Years Before 'Creation Week'.

Second great ape species discovered at Hammerschmiede fossil site | University of Tübingen
Teeth of Buronius manfredschmidi found in the Hammerschmiede.
Upper row: second upper molar. Bottom row: second lower premolar (from different angles). Scale bar corresponds to 10 mm.
Scientists have discovered the 11.6-million-year-old fossilised remains of a second hominoid ape in Germany, showing that at least two species of archaic ape were contemporaneous in the same habitat in Miocene Europe.

To give you some idea of how much history of Earth and life on it happened before creationists think it existed, spread your arms wide and imagine time, from the moment Earth formed in the accretion disk around the young sun at the tip of the middle finger of your left hand to the tip of the middle finger of your right hand. On that analogy, the whole of recorded human history would be wiped away with a single stroke of a nail-file on the nail of your right-hand middle finger!

In that tiny fraction of time, everyone you ever knew, everyone you ever heard of, indeed every person that has ever existed during the past 3-4,000 years lived their lives.

According to creationists, taking a book written in the fearful infancy of our species by ignorant people who knew only the few square miles they lived their entire lives in, as accurate history and real science, that tiny fragment of time is just under half of all that has ever existed. So, it is hardly surprising then that almost all of history and almost all of the evolution of life on Earth, happened in the time before creationists think there was a universe for it to happen in.

Tell me all about the European Miocene Hominoid apes, please. The European Miocene hominoid apes are an important group in the study of primate evolution. The Miocene epoch, which lasted from about 23 million to 5.3 million years ago, was a critical period for the evolution and diversification of hominoids, including the ancestors of modern apes and humans. Here’s a detailed overview:

Key Genera and Species
  1. Proconsul: Though primarily known from African sites, Proconsul species provide a baseline for understanding Miocene hominoids. They had a mix of monkey-like and ape-like features but lacked the specialized suspensory adaptations of modern apes.
  2. Dryopithecus: One of the most well-known European Miocene apes, Dryopithecus species lived around 12-9 million years ago. Fossils have been found in France, Spain, Hungary, and possibly Greece. Dryopithecus had features suggesting a brachiating form of locomotion, with long arms and curved fingers.
  3. Ouranopithecus: Found in Greece and dating to about 9-7 million years ago, Ouranopithecus may have had some similarities to early African apes. Its robust jaw and large teeth suggest a diet that included tough, fibrous vegetation.
  4. Pierolapithecus: Discovered in Spain and dated to around 13 million years ago, Pierolapithecus had features suggesting it was an early form of great ape. Its anatomy indicates it could climb and move through trees in ways similar to modern apes.
  5. Hispanopithecus: Also known as Rudapithecus, this genus lived around 10-9 million years ago in Spain and Hungary. Hispanopithecus had features adapted to a life of brachiation, similar to gibbons.
  6. Anoiapithecus: Found in Spain and dated to about 12 million years ago, Anoiapithecus had a combination of primitive and derived features, which has fueled debates about its place in hominoid evolution.
  7. Griphopithecus: Found in Germany and Austria, Griphopithecus dates to around 16-14 million years ago. It is one of the earliest known European hominoids and had robust limb bones and teeth.

Evolutionary Significance
  1. Locomotion and Anatomy: European Miocene apes exhibit a variety of locomotor adaptations. Some, like Dryopithecus, show early adaptations for brachiation, a form of locomotion used by modern gibbons and orangutans. These adaptations include long arms, curved fingers, and flexible shoulder joints. Others, like Ouranopithecus, show more terrestrial adaptations.
  2. Diet and Dentition: The dental morphology of these apes provides insights into their diets and ecological niches. For example, robust jaws and large molars in some species indicate a diet of tough vegetation, while others with more delicate teeth likely consumed a diet rich in fruits.
  3. Phylogenetic Relationships: The exact phylogenetic relationships among these Miocene apes and their link to modern apes and humans remain debated. However, their anatomical features suggest that they represent early stages in the diversification of the hominoid lineage that would eventually lead to the emergence of modern great apes and humans.
  4. Biogeography: The presence of these apes in Europe during the Miocene highlights the widespread distribution of hominoids before climatic and environmental changes led to the contraction of their habitats. Europe during the Miocene was a more tropical and forested environment, providing suitable habitats for these apes.

Fossil Discoveries

The fossil record of European Miocene apes is patchy but significant. Key fossil sites include:
  • La Grive-Saint-Alban: France, known for Dryopithecus fossils.
  • Abocador de Can Mata: Spain, where Pierolapithecus was discovered.
  • Rudabánya: Hungary, known for Hispanopithecus remains.
  • Nikiti: Greece, where Ouranopithecus fossils have been found.

Challenges in Study
  1. Incomplete Fossil Record: The fossil record for Miocene hominoids is incomplete, making it difficult to draw definitive conclusions about their evolution and behavior.
  2. Convergent Evolution: Some features observed in Miocene apes may result from convergent evolution, complicating the reconstruction of their evolutionary history.
  3. Interpretation of Morphology: Determining the functional implications of various anatomical features requires careful analysis and often leads to different interpretations among researchers.


European Miocene hominoid apes are crucial for understanding the early evolution of apes and the lineage leading to humans. Their diverse adaptations and widespread distribution during the Miocene epoch provide insights into the evolutionary processes that shaped the hominoid family. Ongoing fossil discoveries and advances in analytical techniques continue to refine our understanding of these ancient primates.
For example, scientists from Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen, Germany, and the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, have just announced the discovery of a small species of hominoid ape that coexisted in what is now Germany, with another species during the Miocene era, 11.62 million years ago.

It is known that at some point in the history of the hominoids that they spread from Southeast Asia, across Eurasia and into Africa, leaving the Asian branch to evolve into the gibbons, orangutans and siamang, while the African branch diversified into gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and humans. These European apes then are the ancestors of those who later became extinct in Europe, leaving just the Asian and African species, until humans again spread beyond Africa, first as Homo erectus and later as Homo sapiens.

The new discovery is the subject of an open access paper in PLOS ONE. The discovery is described in a Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen press release:
Second great ape species discovered at Hammerschmiede fossil site

Found in Germany: "Buronius" is the smallest known ape and was a contemporary of the great ape "Udo"

An international team of researchers has discovered a previously unknown ape species in the Hammerschmiede clay pit in southern Germany. Buronius manfredschmidi was found close to the great ape Danuvius guggenmosi, known as "Udo". This was about 12 million years ago the first ape with adaptations for walking upright and made the Hammerschmiede excavation site famous. Buronius was contemporary but smaller than Udo, probably lived in trees and had a vegetarian diet. The find shows that the diversity and ecology of European apes millions of years ago was greater and more complex than previously realized.

Professor Madelaine Böhme and her team from the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment at the University of Tübingen, along with Professor David Begun and other researchers from the University of Toronto were involved in the study, which was published on June 7th in the journal PlosOne.

The Buronius fossils, two teeth and a kneecap, were discovered several years ago near the Danuvius finds in 11.6 million-year-old sediment.

The deposit conditions allow us to conclude that both apes inhabited the same ecosystem at the same time,.

Thomas Lechner, co-author
Department of Geosciences
Section Terrestrial Palaeoclimatology
Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.

The size of the fossils indicates that Buronius weighed only around 10 kilograms. It was therefore significantly smaller than any of today’s apes, which reach between 30 kilograms (bonobo) and over 200 kilograms (gorilla); and that it was also smaller than Danuvius, which weighed between 15 and 46 kilograms. The body weight of Buronius is comparable to that of the siamangs, relatives of the gibbons from South-East Asia.

Buronius' kneecap is thicker and more asymmetrical than Danuvius'," adds Böhme. This could be explained by differences in the thigh muscles. It is possible that Buronius was better adapted to climbing trees.

Buronius ate leaves and Danuvius was omnivorous

The study of the tooth enamel of both apes from the Hammerschmiede site provides deeper insights into their way of life. In primates, the thickness of tooth enamel is closely linked to their diet. Very thin tooth enamel, such as that of gorillas, indicates a fiber-rich vegetarian diet. Thick enamel, as found in humans, is an indication of an omnivore which consumes hard or tough food using a strong bite.

The enamel in Buronius is thinner than that of any other ape in Europe and is comparable to that of gorillas. The enamel of Danuvius, on the other hand, is thicker than that of all related extinct species and almost reaches the thickness of human enamel. This shows that Buronius ate leaves and Danuvius was an omnivore.

Professor Madelaine Böhme, lead author
Department of Geosciences
Section Terrestrial Palaeoclimatology
Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.

The different enamel thickness corresponds to the shape of the chewing surfaces. The Buronius enamel is smoother and has stronger cutting edges; that of Danuvius is notched and has blunt tooth cusps.

How Buronius and Danuvius shared a habitat

If two species live in the same habitat (known as syntopy), they must use different resources in order to avoid competition. The context in which the Hammerschmiede fossils were found is the first evidence of syntopia in apes in Europe. It is likely that the small, leaf-eating Buronius spent more time in the treetops and on branches, say the authors. Danuvius, on the other hand, which was more than twice as large and could walk on two legs, probably roamed a wider area to find more diverse food resources. This is comparable to the current syntopy of gibbons and orangutans on Borneo and Sumatra: While orangutans roam in search of food, the small fruit-eating gibbons stay in the treetops.

Madelaine Böhme, David R. Begun, Andrew C. Holmes, Thomas Lechner & Gabriel Ferreira. Buronius manfredschmidi - A new small hominid from the early late Miocene of Hammerschmiede (Bavaria, Germany). PlosOne , DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0301002

Buronius’ namesake
In the late 1970s, the dentist Manfred Schmid of Marktoberdorf and the (now deceased) amateur archaeologist Sigulf Guggenmos discovered valuable fossils in the former "Hammerschmiede" claypit. In honor of Manfred Schmid, the new ape species was named Buronius manfredschmidi. The name Buronius is derived from the medieval name of the nearby town of Kaufbeuren - Buron.

The Hammerschmiede
The University of Tübingen and the Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment have been carrying out scientific excavations at the site since 2011 under the direction of Prof. Dr. Madelaine Böhme. Since 2017, these have also been taking place as a citizen science project and have been financially supported by the State of Bavaria since 2020. Around 40,000 fossils of 150 vertebrate species have been recovered so far, including the two great apes and other mammal species new to science.
Teeth of Buronius manfredschmidi found in the Hammerschmiede.
Upper row: second upper molar. Bottom row: second lower premolar (from different angles). Scale bar corresponds to 10 mm.
Three views of Buronius manfredschmidi’s left patella (A - from the front), B - from behind and C - from below). Scale bar corresponds to 10 mm.
Molars of the two great apes as a 3D print, magnified by a factor of ten: Buronius manfredschmidi tooth enamel (left) is very thin, indicating it was a herbivore. The thick tooth enamel of Danuvius guggenmosi (right) suggests it was an omnivore.
Micro-tomographic section through upper molars of Buronius manfredschmidi (A - left) and Danuvius guggenmosi (B - right) illustrating the different thickness of the enamel (light-colored material). Scale bar corresponds to 2 mm.

The known diversity of European middle and late Miocene hominids has increased significantly during the last decades. Most of these great apes were frugivores in the broadest sense, ranging from soft fruit frugivores most like chimpanzees to hard/tough object feeders like orangutans, varying in size from larger than siamangs (over 17 kg) to larger than most chimpanzees (~60–70 kg). In contrast to the frequent sympatry of hominoids in the early-to-middle Miocene of Africa, in no European Miocene locality more than one hominid taxon has been identified. Here we describe the first case of hominid sympatry in Europe from the 11.62 Ma old Hammerschmiede HAM 5 level, best known from its excellent record of Danuvius guggenmosi. The new fossils are consistent in size with larger pliopithecoids but differ morphologically from any pliopithecoid and from Danuvius. They are also distinguished from early and middle Miocene apes, share affinities with late Miocene apes, and represent a small hitherto unknown late Miocene ape Buronius manfredschmidi. With an estimated body mass of about 10 kg it represents the smallest known hominid taxon. The relative enamel thickness of Buronius is thin and contrasts with Danuvius, whose enamel is twice as thick. The differences between Buronius and Danuvius in tooth and patellar morphology, enamel thickness and body mass are indicative of differing adaptations in each, permitting resource partitioning, in which Buronius was a more folivorous climber.

Miocene hominoid localities become increasingly common in Europe from the late middle Miocene onwards, shortly after they become rare in Africa. Despite their frequency, richness, and in three cases an exceptional abundance of well-preserved hominoid fossils (Can Llobateres, Hammerschmiede and Rudabánya), no European locality has yielded more than one hominoid taxon. In a few cases the hominoid from a site is accompanied by a pliopithecoid, though in only one case, Rudabánya, are the two catarrhines found co-mingled in the same stratigraphic level [1, 2]. In contrast, all comparably rich early and middle Miocene hominoid sites in Africa contain at least two catarrhines and often more [3, 4].

The Hammerschmiede fossil site is best known as the Danuvius locality. It preserves multiple individuals of Danuvius guggenmosi including well-preserved postcranial bones [5]. The Danuvius fossils come from the 11.62 Ma old HAM 5 level at Hammerschmiede [6], which is highly constrained stratigraphically and taphonomically. The HAM 5 level contains a huge taxonomic diversity, from plants to molluscs to mammals, including many partial skeletons and well-preserved crania. From this level alone, 112 vertebrate species are known (147 from all levels together), including 73 species of mammals (84 mammals in total from the outcrop). So far, only a fraction of the enormous vertebrate fauna has been studied in detail, including carnivores [710], artiodactyles [1113], beavers [14], small mammals [1520] and birds [2123].

HAM 5 also yielded two primate teeth and one patella that are too small and morphologically different to be attributed to Danuvius guggenmosi or any known European Miocene catarrhine. These specimens represent a small hitherto unknown European late Miocene ape, which we describe in this contribution. The presence of a second hominoid at HAM 5 is more consistent with the level of primate diversity found at many early Miocene localities and hence we discuss the new taxon in the light of sympatry in fossil apes.

Geologic and taphonomic setting
The Hammerschmiede outcrop is an active clay-pit in the Upper Series lithostratigraphic unit of the Upper Freshwater Molasse in the North Alpine Foreland Basin [6, 24] (Fig 1A and 1B). It exposes a more than 25 meters thick fluvial sequence, composed of clayey to silty overbank sediments, incised by sandy channel-fills, in addition to two lignite seams, representing a swamp facies [6]. Fossils are mainly known from fluvial channels. The fossil-bearing level HAM 5 represents a riffle pool sequence of a small meandering rivulet (Fig 1C) [5]. The fossiliferous, one-metre thick channel-fill is composed of three fining-upward beds with reworked pedogenic carbonates at their bases [11]. Skeletal elements of vertebrates are commonly disarticulated and show no abrasion, except for some specimens from large bodied taxa such as rhinos and proboscideans. Associated elements of medium-sized mammals like Danuvius guggenmosi, are found frequently within and especially next to the channel (Fig 1C), suggesting rapid deposition and only minor downstream transport of carcasses.
Fig 1.

Geographical position of the Hammerschmiede locality (A, B) and excavation plan (C) of the channel structure HAM 5 (grey areas excavated from 2011 to 2019). Dashed line represents the channel structure. Red stars represent the specimens of Buronius manfredschmidi and grey symbols represent Danuvius individuals; stars–GPIT/MA/10000 (male holotype), diamonds–GPIT/MA/10001 (female paratype), circles–GPIT/MA/10002 (juvenile paratype), triangles–GPIT/MA/10003 (female paratype). Red encircled areas have no tachymeter measurements. Coordinates correspond to Gauss-Krüger Zone 4 grid with easting (R) and northing (H) in metres. The topographic maps have been created using the Generic Mapping Tools program [25].

The material described here was recovered from the HAM 5 channel structure in close proximity to the hypodigm of Danuvius guggenmosi (Fig 1C). Specimens GPIT/MA/10007 and 13005 were found in 2011 next to each other during the first test excavations in Hammerschmiede. Therefore, we have no tachymeter measurements for those specimens. GPIT/MA/13004 has been excavated in 2017, about 25 m downstream from the first two specimens (Fig 1C).

And so we have yet more evidence for creationists to lie about, misrepresent of perform mental gymnastic to explain away, adding to the massive mountain of evidence that creationism is merely a childish superstition without a shred of credible scientific support. Not that that glaring fact ever troubled creationists.

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