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Grasping Primate Origins

Science  22 Nov 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5598, pp. 1606-1610
DOI: 10.1126/science.1078249

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Abstract

The evolutionary history that led to Eocene-and-later primates of modern aspect (Euprimates) has been uncertain. We describe a skeleton of Paleocene plesiadapiformCarpolestes simpsoni that includes most of the skull and many postcranial bones. Phylogenetic analyses indicate that Carpolestidae are closely related to Euprimates. C. simpsonihad long fingers and an opposable hallux with a nail. It lacked orbital convergence and an ankle specialized for leaping. We infer that the ancestor of Euprimates was primitively an arboreal grasper adapted for terminal branch feeding rather than a specialized leaper or visually directed predator.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: carpo{at}umich.edu

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