Pan Prior
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Basic Information

Pan Prior is the proposed scientific name for the common ancestor of humans (Homo Sapiens) and chimpanzees (Pan Troglodytes). No fossil remains have been found for this missing link, but analysis of DNA suggests it's one-time existence. Humans and chimps are very similar genetically, and most of the differences involve duplicate genes or the fusing of chimps chromosome 2A and 2B into a single human chromosome (#2). Presumably, Pan Prior had the extra chromosome of the rest of the Great Apes.

What we can surmise about Pan Prior:

  • It lived in African forests more than 6 million years ago.
  • When the Ice Age made forests shrink about 7 million years ago, Pan Prior was split into two subgroups. The subgroup that spread to the grasslands became man.
  • It may have been tool-using, as both species to evolve from it are. (On the other hand, Chimp tool use might be geologically recent, say the past 4,300 years or so)
  • It was probably rather smaller than modern humans (but maybe bigger than a modern chimp?)
  • It was generally a very adaptable species, willing to switch up it's behavior to survive in new environments.


1. Nonfiction Book: World Without Us by Alan Weisman

Game and Story Use

  • Could be another competing ancestor species in a game set far enough back, giving Neanderthal and Homo Erectus a run for their money.
  • In some hidden valley or deep jungle, Pan Prior (or a third species sharing common ancestry with it) remains to this modern day.
    • Perhaps run-ins lead to Big Foot reports.
    • When loggers try to hack down the jungle home of Pan Prior, things go badly.
  • The name could be modified for future apes descended from Chimpanzees. Pan Superior, Pan Sapiens, Pan Postal, Pan Horribilus, etc.
    • Or as Pyotr Pan, the Russian hominid who never grew up. Okay. Maybe not.
  • Question of how easily it could be distinguished from Pan troglodytes … if the two are similar enough there may be some running about being mistaken for modern chimps as we sit here. Would be interesting, for example, if one of those "chimp wars" documentaries happened to discover that one of the "chimp" tribes was actually not strictly (or not entirely) composed of chimps.
  • Maybe the ancient astronauts have some on ice or stored in their replicator bank collection of "Sol III Biota", especially if they have been studying the progress of mankind (or at least the emergence of sapience in likely candidate species).
    • Or experimenting with inducing sapience?
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