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(2015) Handbook of Paleoanthropology, Dordrecht, Springer.

Fossil record of the primates from the paleocene to the oligocene

Marc Godinot

pp. 1137-1259

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.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-39979-4_68

Full citation:

Godinot, M. (2015)., Fossil record of the primates from the paleocene to the oligocene, in W. Henke & I. Tattersall (eds.), Handbook of Paleoanthropology, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 1137-1259.

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