New analysis of Paleocene skeletons and the evolutionary history of early plesiadapiforms primates

If you’re interested in paleoprimatology and phylogeny at all, a new paper in PNAS titled, “New Paleocene skeletons and the relationship of plesiadapiforms to crown-clade primates” has just come out. If you don’t know Plesiadapiforms are archaic primates who lived in the Paleocene. The study focuses mostly on the initial divergence of primates, and uses some new Paleocene plesiadapiform skeletons for their analyses. And the authors conclude that these plesiadapiforms fall in line with Euprimates and indicate that the divergence of Primates from other euarchontans happened right around the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary or 65 million years ago. Here’s the abstract where I got these conclusions from, once I’m at school, I’ll print off the article and read it in my free time,

“Plesiadapiforms are central to studies of the origin and evolution of primates and other euarchontan mammals (tree shrews and flying lemurs). We report results from a comprehensive cladistic analysis using cranial, postcranial, and dental evidence including data from recently discovered Paleocene plesiadapiform skeletons (Ignacius clarkforkensis sp. nov.; Dryomomys szalayi, gen. et sp. nov.), and the most plesiomorphic extant tree shrew, Ptilocercus lowii. Our results, based on the fossil record, unambiguously place plesiadapiforms with Euprimates and indicate that the divergence of Primates (sensu lato) from other euarchontans likely occurred before or just after the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary (65 Mya), notably later than logistical model and molecular estimates. Anatomical features associated with specialized pedal grasping (including a nail on the hallux) and a petrosal bulla likely evolved in the common ancestor of Plesiadapoidea and Euprimates (Euprimateformes) by 62 Mya in either Asia or North America. Our results are consistent with those from recent molecular analyses that group Dermoptera with Scandentia. We find no evidence to support the hypothesis that any plesiadapiforms were mitten-gliders or closely related to Dermoptera.”

Check out some other resources on Plesiadapiforms and primate evolution here:

I’ve cross posted this over at, just in case.

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