A new genus and three species of primate have been announced at last month’s annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, and we just got news of it via Science Daily. The announcement has come by way of Jim Westgate, a professor of earth and space sciences at Lamar University and also research associate in the Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory, Texas Natural Science Center, University of Texas-Austin. Pretty impressive breadth of disciplines for a paleoprimatologist, no?
Westgate and his team of colleagues recovered a molar, pre-molar and incisor teeth from the new primate genus and three other new primate species. The fossils were found in a,
“42 million-year-old tropical, mangrove palm swamp deposits of the Eocene age Laredo Formation exposed in Lake Casa Blanca International State Park in Laredo.”
The primates are Omoyids, members of the extinct family Omomyidae, which resemble tarsiers in form. The binomial names for these extinct primates haven’t been formally released, but I think they will be called Paralomys. The Science Daily article describes Omoyids a bit more artistically,
“Omomyids had large eye orbits, long grasping fingers and short snouts. They weighed around one kilogram, or close to two pounds and were likely nocturnal, with large eyes for seeing better at night. Like most modern-day primates, the omomyids used their long fingers for climbing. They had small mouths, and it is likely that insects were a part of their regular diet.”
Aside from ascribing a new genus, this finding is significant because it shows how four species of primates lived on the Texas coast line about 42 million years ago. This gives us an insight to the ecosystem of that era, and how it changed upon the time the Rocky Mountains were raised.
I don’t have much else to run off of this press release, other than the information I just conveyed back to you, But Westgate was quoted to say that,
“formal name of the new genus, which means “primate of the coastal lagoons” [Paralomys], will be released at publication time.”