Cookie monster - a nickname by paleontologists for the extinct hominoid, Oreopithecus bambolii. Fossils have been excavated in East Africa and in Italy. There is sufficient evidence (from the fossils) that indicate the presence of a lumbar curve and vertically aligned knee joint, as implications that oreopithecus adapted suspensory behavior or even bipedal locomotion. Because carbon dating shows that the fossils are eight million years old, oreopithecus baffle many scientists by evolving a strange and early form of bipedalism (the australopithecenes appeared two million years later). More interesting are findings showing that oreopithecus lived in swampy areas and not in forests or grasslands; some point out that bipedal hominoid fossils found in marshes and isolated islands support the Aquatic Ape Theory (aslo called AAT).
Because it is not related to the stock from which humans arose, its similarities to the more advanced hominids is considered to be a result of convergent evolution; oreopithecus and the bipedal human ancestors simply responded to environmental pressures with similar solutions. Aside from its upright stance, another interesting feature of this early ape is the strange appearance of its feet. On each foot the big toe sticks out about ninety degrees from the remaining toes (making an L-shape). Scientists now believe that the foot gave oreopithecus a firm base to support its upright posture; this adaptation is also found in birds.
Cookie Monster lived by foraging for leaves, it stood about 3 feet and probably had no predators. Climatic changes, especially the arrival of the Ice Age, six million years ago could have led to its extinction.
The Cookie Monster is classified in the suborder Haplorrhini, infraorder Catarrhini,
superfamily Hominoidea and family Oreopithecidae.