Phylogeny, Adaptations, and Dispersal of the Tarsiiform Primates

  • Frederick S. Szalay


The populations of the southeast Asian Tarsius are the only living representatives of a group of primates that once flourished in dazzling variety and abundance. The heyday of these small primates, as far as we know, was the Eocene. They were clearly differentiated from a lemuriform ancestry somewhere in the Paleocene and survived into the Miocene. Unlike their contemporaries, the lumuriform adapids which produced species as large as Leptadapis magnus, or the several species of Pelycodus or Notharctus, no known tarsiiform is larger than a South American capuchin or uakari (Fig. 1). What the known tarsiiforms lacked in size, however, they apparently made up in the diversity of their known structural adaptations. This is particularly true of the dentition, hitherto their best known aspect. As inferred from the dental differences, their feeding regimes were probably highly diversified, and, one may suspect, this was also true of the locomotor habits of the various species, although, admittedly, the postcranial morphology is not very well known.


Late Eocene Cheek Tooth Continental Drift Cranial Morphology Early Primate 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frederick S. Szalay
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Hunter College of the City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.The American Museum of Natural HistoryNew YorkUSA

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