Implications of Enamel Prism Patterns for the Origin of the New World Monkeys

  • D. G. Gantt
Part of the Advances in Primatology book series (AIPR)


The origin and dispersal of the New World monkeys to the South American continent present an interesting dilemma, for paleogeographical evidence indicates that South America had already separated from Africa by the end of the Cretaceous. During the Tertiary, South America remained an island continent isolated from the rest of the world by oceanic barriers, from the Middle Paleocene [ca. 55 million years (m.y.) ago] to the Middle Pliocene (ca. 3.5 m.y. ago) (Hershkovitz, 1977; Hoffsteffer, 1972, 1974; Orlosky and Swindler, 1975). The source of origin of the New World monkeys both from a biogeographic and a phylogenetic perspective is thus uncertain and controversial. Two main hypotheses have been proposed:
  1. 1.

    The Platyrrhini as well as the Catarrhini were independently derived from Laurasian Paleogene primates, presumably an omomyid lower primate. Therefore, the close resemblance of New and Old World monkeys can be interpreted or explained as a result of convergence and/or parallelism from a lower primate ancestor.

  2. 2.

    The Platyrrhini and the Catarrhini were derived from a common ancestral anthropoid stock probably African in origin with the dispersal of the platyrrhine ancestors occurring through direct faunal interchange (rafting) between the southern continents across the South Atlantic Ocean.



World Monkey Lower Primate South American Continent Scan Electron Microscope Microphotograph Prism Body 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. G. Gantt
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

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