Fossil Record of the Primates from the Paleocene to the Oligocene

Living reference work entry

Abstract

The Paleogene primate fossil record is reviewed following higher systematic categories. Among Strepsirhini, Adapiformes underwent Eocene radiations in North America (Notharctinae) and Europe (Cercamoniinae, Adapinae). Several occasional occurrences due to dispersals are found in North America, Europe, and Africa. Asia reveals a limited diversification (Sivaladapidae) and isolated occurrences indicating a central yet poorly understood role. In Africa the origin of living Lemuriformes is documented in the Late Eocene; odd stem lemuriforms occur earlier. The Eocene florescence of Omomyiformes is documented in North America (Anaptomorphinae, Omomyinae) and in Europe (Microchoeridae). Isolated occurrences, including the stem genus Teilhardina, are known in Asia. Two genera of Tarsiidae, known in the Middle Eocene of Asia, lead to a possible character-based definition of Haplorhini. The Asiatic Eosimiidae may belong in this group, and Archicebus may possibly lie on its stem. The Eocene South Asiatic Amphipithecidae are specialized hard-object feeders whose affinities remain enigmatic. Character-based Anthropoidea, or Simiiformes, are documented in the Late Eocene and Oligocene of Africa (Parapithecidae, Proteopithecidae, Oligopithecidae, Propliopithecidae). Toward the end of the Oligocene, the first African proconsuloids and the first South American platyrrhines appear. Anthropoidean origins are still a field of debate and discovery, with unconvincing Asiatic stem simians and a possible role for African Afrotarsiidae. The fossil record is extremely uneven, going from richly documented lineages in the Eocene of North America, to well-delineated radiations in the Eocene of North America and Europe and the Eocene–Oligocene of Africa, to more dispersed occurrences and enormous gaps during the early periods in Africa and Asia. The latters explain persisting controversies. Many aspects of primate evolution are documented over almost 20 million years, including locomotion, diet, vision and other sensory capacities, brain evolution, and one aspect of social structure via sexual dimorphism. The best records allow researchers to approach specific lineages, evolutionary modes, and analysis of faunistic changes.

Keywords

Middle Eocene Late Eocene Lower Molar Cheek Tooth Infraorbital Foramen 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

Several illustrations were kindly given by K. Christopher Beard, after their preparation by Mark Klinger, and by Russell L. Ciochon, Jens L. Franzen, and Philip D. Gingerich. The casts which allowed new photographs were given or exchanged along the years by K C Beard, T M Bown, H H Covert, E Delson, S. Ducrocq J-L Hartenberger, L. Marivaux, P Robinson, K D Rose, D E Russell, the late D E Savage, E R Seiffert, E L Simons, and M. Takai. Informations on stratigraphy and age of localities were shared by Gregg Gunnell and Laurent Marivaux. White-coating and photographs of casts were done by Lilian Cazes, and all the illustrations were mounted by Alexandre Lethiers, who also draw Figs. 1, 7 and 36. Their help is gratefully acknowledged.

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Muséum National d’Histoire NaturelleEcole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, UMR 7207ParisFrance

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