Thursday, 6 June 2013

Pushing Back the Monkey

News that scientists have confirmed that a 50% (this is unusual) complete fossil skeleton found in China from 55 million years ago is that of the oldest currently identified primate (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2013/jun/05/earliest-known-primate-archicebus-achilles?INTCMP=SRCH). The beast has been named Archicebus ('old monkey') achilles (a reference to its distinctive anthropoid-like heel). The 7cm long animal has features suggesting it was very active and probably fed on insects. What is really interesting about it, are its mixture of prosimian (Tarsier-like) and anthropoid (monkey-like) characteristics (placing it near the origins of the Order) as well as its location, suggesting that the early evolution of the primates occurred in Asia rather than Africa.

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