Ramapithecus (räməpəthēˈkəs, –pĭthˈə–) [key], an extinct group of primates that lived from about 12 to 14 million years ago, for a time regarded as a possible ancestor of Australopithecus and, therefore, of modern humans. Fossils of Ramapithecus were discovered in N India and in E Africa, beginning in 1932. Although it was generally an apelike creature, Ramapithecus was considered a possible human ancestor on the basis of the reconstructed jaw and dental characteristics of fragmentary fossils. A complete jaw discovered in 1976 was clearly nonhominid, however, and Ramapithecus is now regarded by many as a member of Sivapithecus, a genus considered to be an ancestor of the orangutan. See also human evolution.
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