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Lecture 11

Lecture 11.pdf

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McGill University
ANTH 203
Michael Bisson

Early Primate Evolution Triassic Period Ancestor of mammals appearance Same time as ancestral form of dinosaurs Early mammals Small body size Arboreal and nocturnal creatures Extinction of dinosaurs (65 MYBP) opened up ecological niches Primates were first to take advantage of that Derived Traits 1. Nails 2. Opposable fingers/toes 3. Stereoscopic vision 4. Reduction of reliance of sense of smell Thought these features were adaptations to climbing/jumping in trees BUT not present in other arboreal creatures like squirrels BUT shared by insectivores that catch insects using vision combined with their paws Like shrew THEREFORE Earliest primate ancestor should be a small, arboreal insectivores, hunting on small branches Visual predation hypothesis Predator avoidance Avoiding tree snakes by running on very small branches And seeing them in the dark Grasping hands/feet happened before stereoscopic vision Thus, first primate adaptation was feeding on fruits, flowers, and nectar on the terminal branches of trees/shrubs But, DNA proofs that closest relatives to primates are bats and shrews Fossil Evidence Evolved in the late Cretaceous First fossil evidence = paleocene epoch 65-54 MYBP Genus Purgatorius Possible early primate Small shrew
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