A euprimate skull from the early Eocene of China

Xijun Ni, Yuanqing Wang, Yaoming Hu, Chuankui Li
Nature 2004 January 1, 427 (6969): 65-8
The debut of undoubted euprimates (primates of modern aspect) was in the early Eocene, about 55 Myr ago. Since their first appearance, the earliest euprimates can be distinguished as Cantius, Donrussellia and Teilhardina. Nonetheless, the earliest euprimates are primarily known from isolated teeth or fragmentary jaws. Here we describe a partially preserved euprimate skull with nearly complete upper and lower dentition, which represents a new species of Teilhardina and constitutes the first discovery of the genus in Asia. The new species is from the upper section of Lingcha Formation, Hunan Province, China, with an estimated age of 54.97 Myr ago. Morphology and phylogeny analyses reveal that the new species is the most primitive species of Teilhardina, positioned near the root of euprimate radiation. This discovery of the earliest euprimate skull known to date casts new light on the debate concerning the adaptive origin of euprimates, and suggests that the last common ancestor of euprimates was probably a small, diurnal, visually oriented predator.

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