Chapter 19 Primates
Chapter 19: IMAGES FOR LECTURES
Primate Info Net from the University of Wisconsin.
Primates and color vision
Origin of primates deep in the Cretaceous? National Geographic News, April 18, 2002, article about a new paper. This paper makes me really angry. It is lousy science, and should never have been published. It claims that primates evolved deep in the Cretaceous.
The claim depends on assumptions that include an average life of 2.5 million years for a primate species (go to Chapter 20 and check how that fits with hominids). It lumps together living species (defined by a biological species concept) with fossil species (defined by arbitrary morphospecies criteria). Before publication, one can typically test one's idea against available data (that's what science is all about.) If the authors had done that, they would have discovered that there are NO Cretaceous primates, in fact, the first primate is now agreed to be around 55 Ma. If data conflict with ideas, however well founded (and this one is not), then the ideas have failed the test and you start again. This is another example of a peculiar mind-set, centered in Chicago and Santa Barbara, which accepts all species as identical blobs, ignores biology, and uses mathematical models and simulations to arrive at extraordinary "insights" and "discoveries" that have no basis in real-world biology or paleontology.
A new fossil of Carpolestes may shed light on the origin of true primates. National Geographic News, November 21, 2002. The research was published in Science. Carpolestes is a plesiadapid, a member of a group that has been identified as belonging to "flying lemurs", Dermoptera, rather than true primates. The authors hang their argument on their analysis that Carpolestes and the other plesiadapids are indeed primates.
Prosimians have color vision. It's not yet clear how many times color vision evolved within primates, or how it was modified during primate evolution. I suspect that there is a lot to learn yet by studying the vision of living primates. Nocturnal primates probably can't use much color vision, so there may have been episodes of loss and/or repeated evolution of color vision.
African Primates at Home
Daubentonia, the prosimian that has an ecology in the woodpecker guild.
The Origin of Anthropoids
Early Primates in China and Southeast Asia, especially Eosimias
P. 271. The Late Eocene Primates of Egypt
The Fayum fossil region: the "other ancient Egypt".
Earliest fossil lorises and bushbabies. Press release, April 2, 2003: the paper is in Nature, so it's not generally available on the Web.
Biretia, from the Fayum of Egypt, an important stem anthropoid. On the face of it, the new specimens suggest that the last common ancestor of all living anthropoids originated in Africa. What's new is a recognition that the ultimate origin of anthropoids was likely in Asia. The migration from Asia to Africa was probably Eocene. There will likely be arguments, and as usual we need more specimens, but this looks like a fair summary of the status right now. National Geographic News.
The best-known early Fayum anthropoid is Catopithecus. No good link at this time.
Perhaps the most significant Fayum anthropoid for human evolution is Aegyptopithecus, our likely ancestor.
Several of the Fayum primates have sexual dimorphism, which is connected with their social organization.
The New World Monkeys
Overview of Proconsul by John Hawks, 2005.
Short overview of the European ape Dryopithecus, by John Hawks, 2005.
The strange ape Oreopithecus evolved in isolation on a former island in the Mediterranean. Although it was not a hominid, one of its unusual characters was that it walked upright.
A European phase in hominoid ancestry? University of Toronto press release, February 19, 2002, about new papers published in the Journal of Human Evolution. New specimens from Europe suggest that ancestral hominoids migrated from Africa to Europe, and evolved there in the Miocene before re-appearing in Africa in the Pliocene as hominid ancestors. This is still controversial.
The reference list for Chapter 19
Page last updated April 8, 2013
All links checked March 26, 2013.
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