New Fossils Might Solve 'Paradox' of Primate Evolution

By Botkin-Kowacki, Eva | The Christian Science Monitor, May 5, 2016 | Go to article overview

New Fossils Might Solve 'Paradox' of Primate Evolution


Botkin-Kowacki, Eva, The Christian Science Monitor


A dramatic change in climate some 34 million years ago - a global cooling - shifted the course of primate, and therefore our own, evolution.

An international team of researchers unearthed fossils of six new primate species that lived in Asia during that period, filling in a gap in the evolutionary story of primates. And this could help scientists resolve the "paradox" of why our own evolution happened in Africa, even though our primate lineage is thought to have originated in Asia.

The fossils, described in a paper published Thursday in the journal Science, illustrate how primate diversity in Asia changed with the climate at the end of the Eocene epoch.

During the Eocene, which ran from about 56 to 34 million years ago, the world's climate was in a greenhouse state. "This was a wonderful time to be a primate, because primates like things to be hot and muggy," says K. Christopher Beard, senior curator at the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute and a coauthor on the new paper.

Primates thrived across many regions, including Europe, North America, Asia, and Africa during the Eocene, Dr. Beard tells The Christian Science Monitor.

But the epoch that followed, the Oligocene, was not so kind to these ancient primates. It became considerably cooler and drier across the globe.

Primates in many regions went extinct. Those that survived clustered around the equator or in the tropics, in Africa and Asia.

Scientists already had fossils representing the evolution of primates in Africa across the Eocene-Oligocene boundary, but little was known about the diversity of primates present in Asia during the early Oligocene, says John Fleagle, a primatologist at Stony Brook University and author of several books on primate evolution, who was not part of the new study.

These fossils, unearthed in southern China, "fill a gap," Dr. Fleagle tells the Monitor. They illuminate "a whole aspect of primate evolution that wasn't clearly documented before," he says.

What story do these new fossils tell?

During the Eocene, many species of primates lived across Asia and Africa. Many members of both branches of primates, the strepsirrhines and the haplorhines, populated both regions.

Of the six new species found at the Oligocene site in southern China, four are lemur-like members of the strepsrrhine lineage. A fifth is an ancestor of tarsiers, members of the haplorhine lineage that still live in southeast Asia today. And the sixth species is an anthropoid, also a haplorhine and a member of the lineage that includes monkeys, apes, and our own ancestors. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

New Fossils Might Solve 'Paradox' of Primate Evolution
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.