Age of the Earliest African Anthropoids

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Science  05 Dec 1986:
Vol. 234, Issue 4781, pp. 1247-1249
DOI: 10.1126/science.234.4781.1247


The earliest fossil record of African anthropoid primates (monkeys and apes) comes from the Jebel Qatrani Formation in the Fayum depression of Egypt. Reevaluation of both geologic and faunal evidence indicates that this formation was deposited in the early part of the Oligocene Epoch, more than 31 million years ago, earlier than previous estimates. The great antiquity of the fossil higher primates from Egypt accords well with their primitive morphology compared with later Old World higher primates. Thus, the anthropoid primates and hystricomorph rodents from Fayum are also considerably older than the earliest higher primates and rodents from South America.