The Cretaceous is a geologic period and system that spans 79 million years from the end of the Jurassic Period 145 million years ago to the beginning of the Paleogene Period 66 mya. It is the last period of the Mesozoic Era, the longest period of the Phanerozoic Eon; the Cretaceous Period is abbreviated K, for its German translation Kreide. The Cretaceous was a period with a warm climate, resulting in high eustatic sea levels that created numerous shallow inland seas; these oceans and seas were populated with now-extinct marine reptiles and rudists, while dinosaurs continued to dominate on land. During this time, new groups of mammals and birds, as well as flowering plants, appeared; the Cretaceous ended with the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, a large mass extinction in which many groups, including non-avian dinosaurs and large marine reptiles died out. The end of the Cretaceous is defined by the abrupt Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary, a geologic signature associated with the mass extinction which lies between the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras.
The Cretaceous as a separate period was first defined by Belgian geologist Jean d'Omalius d'Halloy in 1822, using strata in the Paris Basin and named for the extensive beds of chalk, found in the upper Cretaceous of Western Europe. The name Cretaceous was derived from Latin creta; the Cretaceous is divided into Early and Late Cretaceous epochs, or Lower and Upper Cretaceous series. In older literature the Cretaceous is sometimes divided into three series: Neocomian and Senonian. A subdivision in eleven stages, all originating from European stratigraphy, is now used worldwide. In many parts of the world, alternative local subdivisions are still in use; as with other older geologic periods, the rock beds of the Cretaceous are well identified but the exact age of the system's base is uncertain by a few million years. No great extinction or burst of diversity separates the Cretaceous from the Jurassic. However, the top of the system is defined, being placed at an iridium-rich layer found worldwide, believed to be associated with the Chicxulub impact crater, with its boundaries circumscribing parts of the Yucatán Peninsula and into the Gulf of Mexico.
This layer has been dated at 66.043 Ma. A 140 Ma age for the Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary instead of the accepted 145 Ma was proposed in 2014 based on a stratigraphic study of Vaca Muerta Formation in Neuquén Basin, Argentina. Víctor Ramos, one of the authors of the study proposing the 140 Ma boundary age sees the study as a "first step" toward formally changing the age in the International Union of Geological Sciences. From youngest to oldest, the subdivisions of the Cretaceous period are: Late Cretaceous Maastrichtian – Campanian – Santonian – Coniacian – Turonian – Cenomanian – Early Cretaceous Albian – Aptian – Barremian – Hauterivian – Valanginian – Berriasian – The high sea level and warm climate of the Cretaceous meant large areas of the continents were covered by warm, shallow seas, providing habitat for many marine organisms; the Cretaceous was named for the extensive chalk deposits of this age in Europe, but in many parts of the world, the deposits from the Cretaceous are of marine limestone, a rock type, formed under warm, shallow marine circumstances.
Due to the high sea level, there was extensive space for such sedimentation. Because of the young age and great thickness of the system, Cretaceous rocks are evident in many areas worldwide. Chalk is a rock type characteristic for the Cretaceous, it consists of coccoliths, microscopically small calcite skeletons of coccolithophores, a type of algae that prospered in the Cretaceous seas. In northwestern Europe, chalk deposits from the Upper Cretaceous are characteristic for the Chalk Group, which forms the white cliffs of Dover on the south coast of England and similar cliffs on the French Normandian coast; the group is found in England, northern France, the low countries, northern Germany, Denmark and in the subsurface of the southern part of the North Sea. Chalk is not consolidated and the Chalk Group still consists of loose sediments in many places; the group has other limestones and arenites. Among the fossils it contains are sea urchins, belemnites and sea reptiles such as Mosasaurus. In southern Europe, the Cretaceous is a marine system consisting of competent limestone beds or incompetent marls.
Because the Alpine mountain chains did not yet exist in the Cretaceous, these deposits formed on the southern edge of the European continental shelf, at the margin of the Tethys Ocean. Stagnation of deep sea currents in middle Cretaceous times caused anoxic conditions in the sea water leaving the deposited organic matter undecomposed. Half the worlds petroleum reserves were laid down at this time in the anoxic conditions of what would become the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Mexico. In many places around the world, dark anoxic shales were formed during this interval; these shales are an important source rock for oil and gas, for example in the subsurface of the North Sea. During th
A chordate is an animal constituting the phylum Chordata. During some period of their life cycle, chordates possess a notochord, a dorsal nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, an endostyle, a post-anal tail: these five anatomical features define this phylum. Chordates are bilaterally symmetric; the Chordata and Ambulacraria together form the superphylum Deuterostomia. Chordates are divided into three subphyla: Vertebrata. There are extinct taxa such as the Vetulicolia. Hemichordata has been presented as a fourth chordate subphylum, but now is treated as a separate phylum: hemichordates and Echinodermata form the Ambulacraria, the sister phylum of the Chordates. Of the more than 65,000 living species of chordates, about half are bony fish that are members of the superclass Osteichthyes. Chordate fossils have been found from as early as the Cambrian explosion, 541 million years ago. Cladistically, vertebrates - chordates with the notochord replaced by a vertebral column during development - are considered to be a subgroup of the clade Craniata, which consists of chordates with a skull.
The Craniata and Tunicata compose the clade Olfactores. Chordates form a phylum of animals that are defined by having at some stage in their lives all of the following anatomical features: A notochord, a stiff rod of cartilage that extends along the inside of the body. Among the vertebrate sub-group of chordates the notochord develops into the spine, in wholly aquatic species this helps the animal to swim by flexing its tail. A dorsal neural tube. In fish and other vertebrates, this develops into the spinal cord, the main communications trunk of the nervous system. Pharyngeal slits; the pharynx is the part of the throat behind the mouth. In fish, the slits are modified to form gills, but in some other chordates they are part of a filter-feeding system that extracts particles of food from the water in which the animals live. Post-anal tail. A muscular tail that extends backwards behind the anus. An endostyle; this is a groove in the ventral wall of the pharynx. In filter-feeding species it produces mucus to gather food particles, which helps in transporting food to the esophagus.
It stores iodine, may be a precursor of the vertebrate thyroid gland. There are soft constraints that separate chordates from certain other biological lineages, but are not part of the formal definition: All chordates are deuterostomes; this means. All chordates are based on a bilateral body plan. All chordates are coelomates, have a fluid filled body cavity called a coelom with a complete lining called peritoneum derived from mesoderm; the following schema is from the third edition of Vertebrate Palaeontology. The invertebrate chordate classes are from Fishes of the World. While it is structured so as to reflect evolutionary relationships, it retains the traditional ranks used in Linnaean taxonomy. Phylum Chordata †Vetulicolia? Subphylum Cephalochordata – Class Leptocardii Clade Olfactores Subphylum Tunicata – Class Ascidiacea Class Thaliacea Class Appendicularia Class Sorberacea Subphylum Vertebrata Infraphylum incertae sedis Cyclostomata Superclass'Agnatha' paraphyletic Class Myxini Class Petromyzontida or Hyperoartia Class †Conodonta Class †Myllokunmingiida Class †Pteraspidomorphi Class †Thelodonti Class †Anaspida Class †Cephalaspidomorphi Infraphylum Gnathostomata Class †Placodermi Class Chondrichthyes Class †Acanthodii Superclass Osteichthyes Class Actinopterygii Class Sarcopterygii Superclass Tetrapoda Class Amphibia Class Sauropsida Class Synapsida Craniates, one of the three subdivisions of chordates, all have distinct skulls.
They include the hagfish. Michael J. Benton commented that "craniates are characterized by their heads, just as chordates, or all deuterostomes, are by their tails". Most craniates are vertebrates; these consist of a series of bony or cartilaginous cylindrical vertebrae with neural arches that protect the spinal cord, with projections that link the vertebrae. However hagfish have incomplete braincases and no vertebrae, are therefore not regarded as vertebrates, but as members of the craniates, the group from which vertebrates are thought to have evolved; however the cladistic exclusion of hagfish from the vertebrates is controversial, as they ma
Craniometry is measurement of the cranium the human cranium. It is a subset of cephalometry, measurement of the head, which in humans is a subset of anthropometry, measurement of the human body, it is distinct from phrenology, the pseudoscience that tried to link personality and character to head shape, physiognomy, which tried the same for facial features. However, these fields have all claimed the ability to predict traits or intelligence, they were once intensively practised in anthropology, in particular in physical anthropology in the 19th and the first part of the 20th century. Theories attempting to scientifically justify the segregation of society based on race became popular at this time, one of their prominent figures being Georges Vacher de Lapouge, who divided humanity into various, different "races", spanning from the "Aryan white race, dolichocephalic", to the "brachycephalic" race. On the other hand, craniometry was used as evidence against the existence of a "Nordic race" and by Franz Boas who used the cephalic index to show the influence of environmental factors.
Charles Darwin used craniometry and the study of skeletons to demonstrate his theory of evolution first expressed in On the Origin of Species. More direct measurements involve examinations of brains from corpses, or more imaging techniques such as MRI, which can be used on living persons; such measurements are used in research on intelligence. Swedish professor of anatomy Anders Retzius first used the cephalic index in physical anthropology to classify ancient human remains found in Europe, he classified brains into three main categories, "dolichocephalic", "brachycephalic" and "mesocephalic". These terms were used by Georges Vacher de Lapouge, one of the pioneers of scientific theories in this area and a theoretician of eugenics, who in L'Aryen et son rôle social divided humanity into various, different "races", spanning from the "Aryan white race, dolichocephalic", to the "brachycephalic" "mediocre and inert" race, best represented by the "Jew." Between these, Vacher de Lapouge identified the "Homo europaeus, the "Homo alpinus", the "Homo mediterraneus".
"Homo africanus" was excluded from the discussion. Vacher de Lapouge became one of the leading inspirations of Nazi ideology, his classification was mirrored in William Z. Ripley in The Races of Europe. In 1784, Louis-Jean-Marie Daubenton, who wrote many comparative anatomy memoirs for the Académie française, published the Mémoire sur les différences de la situation du grand trou occipital dans l’homme et dans les animaux. Six years Pieter Camper, distinguished both as an artist and as an anatomist, published some lectures containing an account of his craniometrical methods; these laid the foundation of all subsequent work. Pieter Camper invented the "facial angle", a measure meant to determine intelligence among various species. According to this technique, a "facial angle" was formed by drawing two lines: one horizontally from the nostril to the ear. Camper claimed that antique statues presented an angle of 90°, Europeans of 80°, Black people of 70° and the orangutan of 58°, thus displaying a hierarchic view of mankind, based on a decadent conception of history.
This scientific research was continued by Étienne Geoffroy Paul Broca. In 1856, workers found in a limestone quarry the skull of a Neanderthal man, thinking it to be the remains of a bear, they gave the material to amateur naturalist Johann Karl Fuhlrott, who turned the fossils over to anatomist Hermann Schaaffhausen. The discovery was jointly announced in 1857. Measurements were first made to compare the skulls of men with those of other animals; this wide comparison constituted the first subdivision of craniometric studies. The artist-anatomist Camper's developed a theory to measure the facial angle, for which he is chiefly known in anthropological literature. Camper's work followed 18th-century scientific theories, his measurements of facial angle were used to liken the skulls of non-Europeans to those of apes. "Craniometry" played a role in the foundation of the United States and the ideologies or racism that would become ingrained in the American psyche. As John Jeffries articulates in The Collision of Culture the Anglo-Saxon hegemony present in America during the eighteenth and nineteenth century helped establish "The American School of Craniometry" which helped establish the American and Western concept of race.
As Jeffries points out the rigid establishment of race in eighteenth-century American society came from a new school of sciences which sought to distance Anglo-Saxons from the African American population. The distancing of the African population in American society through craniometry helped in the efforts to scientifically prove they were inferior; the ideologies set forth by this new "American School" of thought were used to justify maintaining an enslaved population to sustain the increasing number of slave plantations in the American South during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In the 19th c
Mammals are vertebrate animals constituting the class Mammalia, characterized by the presence of mammary glands which in females produce milk for feeding their young, a neocortex, fur or hair, three middle ear bones. These characteristics distinguish them from reptiles and birds, from which they diverged in the late Triassic, 201–227 million years ago. There are around 5,450 species of mammals; the largest orders are the rodents and Soricomorpha. The next three are the Primates, the Cetartiodactyla, the Carnivora. In cladistics, which reflect evolution, mammals are classified as endothermic amniotes, they are the only living Synapsida. The early synapsid mammalian ancestors were sphenacodont pelycosaurs, a group that produced the non-mammalian Dimetrodon. At the end of the Carboniferous period around 300 million years ago, this group diverged from the sauropsid line that led to today's reptiles and birds; the line following the stem group Sphenacodontia split off several diverse groups of non-mammalian synapsids—sometimes referred to as mammal-like reptiles—before giving rise to the proto-mammals in the early Mesozoic era.
The modern mammalian orders arose in the Paleogene and Neogene periods of the Cenozoic era, after the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs, have been among the dominant terrestrial animal groups from 66 million years ago to the present. The basic body type is quadruped, most mammals use their four extremities for terrestrial locomotion. Mammals range in size from the 30–40 mm bumblebee bat to the 30-meter blue whale—the largest animal on the planet. Maximum lifespan varies from two years for the shrew to 211 years for the bowhead whale. All modern mammals give birth to live young, except the five species of monotremes, which are egg-laying mammals; the most species-rich group of mammals, the cohort called placentals, have a placenta, which enables the feeding of the fetus during gestation. Most mammals are intelligent, with some possessing large brains, self-awareness, tool use. Mammals can communicate and vocalize in several different ways, including the production of ultrasound, scent-marking, alarm signals and echolocation.
Mammals can organize themselves into fission-fusion societies and hierarchies—but can be solitary and territorial. Most mammals are polygynous. Domestication of many types of mammals by humans played a major role in the Neolithic revolution, resulted in farming replacing hunting and gathering as the primary source of food for humans; this led to a major restructuring of human societies from nomadic to sedentary, with more co-operation among larger and larger groups, the development of the first civilizations. Domesticated mammals provided, continue to provide, power for transport and agriculture, as well as food and leather. Mammals are hunted and raced for sport, are used as model organisms in science. Mammals have been depicted in art since Palaeolithic times, appear in literature, film and religion. Decline in numbers and extinction of many mammals is driven by human poaching and habitat destruction deforestation. Mammal classification has been through several iterations since Carl Linnaeus defined the class.
No classification system is universally accepted. George Gaylord Simpson's "Principles of Classification and a Classification of Mammals" provides systematics of mammal origins and relationships that were universally taught until the end of the 20th century. Since Simpson's classification, the paleontological record has been recalibrated, the intervening years have seen much debate and progress concerning the theoretical underpinnings of systematization itself through the new concept of cladistics. Though field work made Simpson's classification outdated, it remains the closest thing to an official classification of mammals. Most mammals, including the six most species-rich orders, belong to the placental group; the three largest orders in numbers of species are Rodentia: mice, porcupines, beavers and other gnawing mammals. The next three biggest orders, depending on the biological classification scheme used, are the Primates including the apes and lemurs. According to Mammal Species of the World, 5,416 species were identified in 2006.
These were grouped into 153 families and 29 orders. In 2008, the International Union for Conservation of Nature completed a five-year Global Mammal Assessment for its IUCN Red List, which counted 5,488 species. According to a research published in the Journal of Mammalogy in 2018, the number of recognized mammal species is 6,495 species included 96 extinct; the word "mammal" is modern, from the scientific name Mammalia coined by Carl Linnaeus in 1758, derived from the Latin mamma. In an influential 1988 paper, Timothy Rowe defined Mammalia phylogenetically as the crown group of mammals, the clade consisting of the most recent common ancestor of living monotremes and therian m
The Hominidae, whose members are known as great apes or hominids, are a taxonomic family of primates that includes eight extant species in four genera: Pongo, the Bornean and Tapanuli orangutan. Several revisions in classifying the great apes have caused the use of the term "hominid" to vary over time, its original meaning referred only to their closest extinct relatives. That restrictive meaning has now been assumed by the term "hominin", which comprises all members of the human clade after the split from the chimpanzees; the current, 21st-century meaning of "hominid" includes all the great apes including humans. Usage still varies and some scientists and laypersons still use "hominid" in the original restrictive sense. Within the taxon Hominidae, a number of extant and known extinct, that is, genera are grouped with the humans and gorillas in the subfamily Homininae; the most recent common ancestor of all Hominidae lived 14 million years ago, when the ancestors of the orangutans speciated from the ancestral line of the other three genera.
Those ancestors of the family Hominidae had speciated from the family Hylobatidae 15 million to 20 million years ago. In the early Miocene, about 22 million years ago, there were many species of arboreally adapted primitive catarrhines from East Africa. Fossils at 20 million years ago include fragments attributed to Victoriapithecus, the earliest Old World monkey. Among the genera thought to be in the ape lineage leading up to 13 million years ago are Proconsul, Dendropithecus, Nacholapithecus, Nyanzapithecus, Afropithecus and Kenyapithecus, all from East Africa. At sites far distant from East Africa, the presence of other generalized non-cercopithecids, that is, non-monkey primates, of middle Miocene age—Otavipithecus from cave deposits in Namibia, Pierolapithecus and Dryopithecus from France and Austria—is further evidence of a wide diversity of ancestral ape forms across Africa and the Mediterranean basin during the warm and equable climatic regimes of the early and middle Miocene; the most recent of these far-flung Miocene apes is Oreopithecus, from the fossil-rich coal beds in northern Italy and dated to 9 million years ago.
Molecular evidence indicates that the lineage of gibbons, the lesser apes, diverged from that of the great apes some 18–12 million years ago, that of orangutans diverged from the other great apes at about 12 million years. There are no fossils that document the ancestry of gibbons, which may have originated in a still-unknown South East Asian hominoid population. Species close to the last common ancestor of gorillas and humans may be represented by Nakalipithecus fossils found in Kenya and Ouranopithecus found in Greece. Molecular evidence suggests that between 8 and 4 million years ago, first the gorillas, the chimpanzees split off from the line leading to the humans. Human DNA is 98.4% identical to that of chimpanzees when comparing single nucleotide polymorphisms. The fossil record, however, of gorillas and chimpanzees is limited. Other hominins adapted to the drier environments outside the African equatorial belt; the wet equatorial belt contracted after about 8 million years ago, there is little fossil evidence for the divergence of the hominin lineage from that of gorillas and chimpanzees—which split was thought to have occurred around that time.
The earliest fossils argued by some to belong to the human lineage are Sahelanthropus tchadensis and Orrorin tugenensis, followed by Ardipithecus, with species Ar. kadabba and Ar. ramidus. The classification of the great apes has been revised several times in the last few decades; the original meaning of the term referred to only humans and their closest relatives—what is now the modern meaning of the term "hominin". The meaning of the taxon Hominidae changed leading to a different usage of "hominid" that today includes all the great apes including humans; the term hominid is confused with a number of similar words: A hominoid called an ape, is a member of the superfamily Hominoidea: extant members are the gibbons and the hominids. A hominid is a member of the family Hominidae, the great apes: orangutans, gorillas and humans. A hominine is a member of the subfamily Homininae: gorillas and humans. A hominin is a member of the tribe Hominini: humans. A homininan, following a suggestion by Wood and Richmond, would be a member of the subtribe Homin
The Silurian is a geologic period and system spanning 24.6 million years from the end of the Ordovician Period, at 443.8 million years ago, to the beginning of the Devonian Period, 419.2 Mya. The Silurian is the shortest period of the Paleozoic Era; as with other geologic periods, the rock beds that define the period's start and end are well identified, but the exact dates are uncertain by several million years. The base of the Silurian is set at a series of major Ordovician–Silurian extinction events when 60% of marine species were wiped out. A significant evolutionary milestone during the Silurian was the diversification of jawed fish and bony fish. Multi-cellular life began to appear on land in the form of small, bryophyte-like and vascular plants that grew beside lakes and coastlines, terrestrial arthropods are first found on land during the Silurian. However, terrestrial life would not diversify and affect the landscape until the Devonian; the Silurian system was first identified by British geologist Roderick Murchison, examining fossil-bearing sedimentary rock strata in south Wales in the early 1830s.
He named the sequences for a Celtic tribe of Wales, the Silures, inspired by his friend Adam Sedgwick, who had named the period of his study the Cambrian, from the Latin name for Wales. This naming does not indicate any correlation between the occurrence of the Silurian rocks and the land inhabited by the Silures. In 1835 the two men presented a joint paper, under the title On the Silurian and Cambrian Systems, Exhibiting the Order in which the Older Sedimentary Strata Succeed each other in England and Wales, the germ of the modern geological time scale; as it was first identified, the "Silurian" series when traced farther afield came to overlap Sedgwick's "Cambrian" sequence, provoking furious disagreements that ended the friendship. Charles Lapworth resolved the conflict by defining a new Ordovician system including the contested beds. An early alternative name for the Silurian was "Gotlandian" after the strata of the Baltic island of Gotland; the French geologist Joachim Barrande, building on Murchison's work, used the term Silurian in a more comprehensive sense than was justified by subsequent knowledge.
He divided the Silurian rocks of Bohemia into eight stages. His interpretation was questioned in 1854 by Edward Forbes, the stages of Barrande, F, G and H, have since been shown to be Devonian. Despite these modifications in the original groupings of the strata, it is recognized that Barrande established Bohemia as a classic ground for the study of the earliest fossils; the Llandovery Epoch lasted from 443.8 ± 1.5 to 433.4 ± 2.8 mya, is subdivided into three stages: the Rhuddanian, lasting until 440.8 million years ago, the Aeronian, lasting to 438.5 million years ago, the Telychian. The epoch is named for the town of Llandovery in Wales; the Wenlock, which lasted from 433.4 ± 1.5 to 427.4 ± 2.8 mya, is subdivided into the Sheinwoodian and Homerian ages. It is named after Wenlock Edge in England. During the Wenlock, the oldest-known tracheophytes of the genus Cooksonia, appear; the complexity of later Gondwana plants like Baragwanathia, which resembled a modern clubmoss, indicates a much longer history for vascular plants, extending into the early Silurian or Ordovician.
The first terrestrial animals appear in the Wenlock, represented by air-breathing millipedes from Scotland. The Ludlow, lasting from 427.4 ± 1.5 to 423 ± 2.8 mya, comprises the Gorstian stage, lasting until 425.6 million years ago, the Ludfordian stage. It is named for the town of Ludlow in England; the Přídolí, lasting from 423 ± 1.5 to 419.2 ± 2.8 mya, is the final and shortest epoch of the Silurian. It is named after one locality at the Homolka a Přídolí nature reserve near the Prague suburb Slivenec in the Czech Republic. Přídolí is the old name of a cadastral field area. In North America a different suite of regional stages is sometimes used: Cayugan Lockportian Tonawandan Ontarian Alexandrian In Estonia the following suite of regional stages is used: Ohessaare stage Kaugatuma stage Kuressaare stage Paadla stage Rootsiküla stage Jaagarahu stage Jaani stage Adavere stage Raikküla stage Juuru stage With the supercontinent Gondwana covering the equator and much of the southern hemisphere, a large ocean occupied most of the northern half of the globe.
The high sea levels of the Silurian and the flat land resulted in a number of island chains, thus a rich diversity of environmental settings. During the Silurian, Gondwana continued a slow southward drift to high southern latitudes, but there is evidence that the Silurian icecaps were less extensive than those of the late-Ordovician glaciation; the southern continents remained united during this period. The melting of icecaps and glaciers contributed to a rise in sea level, recognizable from the fact that Silurian sediments overlie eroded Ordovician sediments, forming an unconformity; the continents of Avalonia and Laurentia drifted together near the equator, starting the formation of a second supercontinent known as Euramerica. When the proto-Europe coll
Sahelanthropus tchadensis is an extinct species of the Hominini and is the ancestor to Orrorin, dated to about 7 million years ago, during the Miocene epoch very close to the time of the chimpanzee–human divergence. Few specimens other than the partial skull, nicknamed Toumaï, are known. Existing fossils include a small cranium named Toumaï, five pieces of jaw, some teeth, making up a head that has a mixture of derived and primitive features; the braincase, being only 320 cm3 to 380 cm3 in volume, is similar to that of extant chimpanzees and is notably less than the approximate human volume of 1350 cm3. The teeth, brow ridges, facial structure differ markedly from those found in Homo sapiens. Cranial features show a flatter face, u-shaped dental arcade, small canines, an anterior foramen magnum, heavy brow ridges. No postcranial remains have been recovered; the only known skull suffered a large amount of distortion during the time of fossilisation and discovery, as the cranium is dorsoventrally flattened, the right side is depressed.
Sahelanthropus tchadensis may have walked on two legs. However, because no postcranial remains have been discovered, it is not known definitively whether Sahelanthropus was indeed bipedal, although claims for an anteriorly placed foramen magnum suggests that this may have been the case. Upon examination of the foramen magnum in the primary study, the lead author speculated that a bipedal gait "would not be unreasonable" based on basicranial morphology similar to more recent hominins; some palaeontologists have disputed this interpretation, stating that the basicranium, as well as dentition and facial features, do not represent adaptations unique to the hominin clade, nor indicative of bipedalism. Further, according to recent information, what might be a femur of a hominid was discovered near the cranium—but which has not been published nor accounted for. Fifteen years after the discovery of the fossil, the anthropologist Roberto Macchiarelli—professor at the University of Poitiers and the Museum of Natural History of Paris—suspects Michel Brunet and his laboratory in Poitiers of blocking information about a femur found close to the skull.
That the laboratory would have delayed identification may question the bipedalism of Toumaï. The fossils were discovered in the Djurab Desert of Chad by a team of four led by a Frenchman, Alain Beauvilain, three Chadians, Adoum Mahamat, Djimdoumalbaye Ahounta, Gongdibé Fanoné, members of the Mission paleoanthropologique Franco-tchadienne led by Michel Brunet. All known material of Sahelanthropus was found between July 2001 and March 2002 at three sites: TM 247, TM 266, which yielded most of the material, including a cranium and a femur, TM 292; the discoverers claimed that S. tchadensis is the oldest-known human ancestor after the split of the human line from that of chimpanzees. The bones were found far from most previous hominin fossil finds, which are from Eastern and Southern Africa. However, an Australopithecus bahrelghazali mandible was found in Chad by Mamelbaye Tomalta and Alain Beauvilain, Michel Brunet and Aladji H. E. Moutaye as early as 1995. With the sexual dimorphism known to have existed in early hominins, the difference between Ardipithecus and Sahelanthropus may not be large enough to warrant a separate species for the latter.
Sahelanthropus may represent a common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees, though no consensus has been reached yet by the scientific community. The original placement of this species as a human ancestor but not a chimpanzee ancestor would complicate the picture of human phylogeny. In particular, if Toumaï is indeed a direct human ancestor its facial features bring into doubt the status of Australopithecus whose thickened brow ridges were reported to be similar to those of some fossil hominins, where the brow ridge morphology of Sahelanthropus differs from that observed in all australopithecines, most fossil hominins and extant humans. Another possibility is that Toumaï is related to both humans and chimpanzees, but is the ancestor of neither. Brigitte Senut and Martin Pickford, the discoverers of Orrorin tugenensis, suggested that the features of S. tchadensis are consistent with a female proto-gorilla. If this claim is upheld the find would lose none of its significance, because at present few chimpanzee or gorilla ancestors have been found anywhere in Africa.
Thus if S. tchadensis is an ancestral relative of the chimpanzees or gorillas it represents the earliest known member of their lineage. And S. tchadensis does indicate that the last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees is unlikely to resemble extant chimpanzees, as had been supposed by some paleontologists. A further possibility, highlighted by research published in 2012, is that the human–chimpanzee split is earlier than thought, with a possible range of 7 to 13 million years ago, based on slower than thought changes between generations in human DNA. Indeed, some researchers consider suggestions that Sahelanthropus is too early to be a human ancestor to have evaporated. Sediment isotope analysis of cosmogenic atoms in the fossil yielded an age of about 7 million years. In this case, the fossils were found exposed in loose sand. In fact, Toumaï may have been reburied in the r