"It is therefore probable that Africa was formerly inhabited by extinct apes closely allied to the gorilla and chimpanzee; as these two species are now man's closest allies, it is somewhat more probable that our early progenitors lived on the African continent than elsewhere."
So mused Charles Darwin in his 1871 work, The Descent of Man. Although no African fossil apes or humans were known at the time, remains recovered since then have largely confirmed his sage prediction about human origins. There is, however, considerably more complexity to the story than even Darwin could have imagined. Current fossil and genetic analyses indicate that the last common ancestor of humans and our closest living relative, the chimpanzee, surely arose in Africa, around six million to eight million years ago. But from where did this creature's own forebears come? Paleoanthropologists have long presumed that they, too, had African roots. Mounting fossil evidence suggests that this received wisdom is flawed.
This article was originally published with the title Planet of the Apes.