Ramapithecus räməpəthē´kəs, –pĭth´ə– [key], former name for 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 nonhominin, however, and Ramapithecus fossils are now regarded by many as belonging to the genus Sivapithecus, which is considered to be an ancestor of the orangutan. See also human evolution.
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