JOURNAL ARTICLE

Rapid Asia-Europe-North America geographic dispersal of earliest Eocene primate Teilhardina during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum

Thierry Smith, Kenneth D Rose, Philip D Gingerich
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2006 July 25, 103 (30): 11223-7
16847264
True primates appeared suddenly on all three northern continents during the 100,000-yr-duration Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum at the beginning of the Eocene, approximately 55.5 mya. The simultaneous or nearly simultaneous appearance of euprimates on northern continents has been difficult to understand because the source area, immediate ancestors, and dispersal routes were all unknown. Now, omomyid haplorhine Teilhardina is known on all three continents in association with the carbon isotope excursion marking the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. Relative position within the carbon isotope excursion indicates that Asian Teilhardina asiatica is oldest, European Teilhardina belgica is younger, and North American Teilhardina brandti and Teilhardina americana are, successively, youngest. Analysis of morphological characteristics of all four species supports an Asian origin and a westward Asia-to-Europe-to-North America dispersal for Teilhardina. High-resolution isotope stratigraphy indicates that this dispersal happened in an interval of approximately 25,000 yr. Rapid geographic dispersal and morphological character evolution in Teilhardina reported here are consistent with rates observed in other contexts.

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