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Chapter 9


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University of Toronto Mississauga
Esteban Parra

Notes From Reading C HAPTER  9: RIMATE  ORIGINS AND EVOLUTION  PGS. 215­233) Early Primate Evolution - Primates evolved during the Cenozoic era, which is the past 65.5 million years - Epoch – Asubdivision of a geologic period Overview of Early Primate Evolution - An adaptive radiation of primate-like mammals led to the origin of what we would call “true primates” - The primate-like mammals showed evidence of an initial adaptation to life in trees - Most of these species died out, but some evolved into primitive primates, which were fully adapted to living in the trees - These primates then underwent another adaptive radion, and although many of these early primate species became extinct, some species survived to ultimately evolve into the different lines of modern strepsirhines - Some of the early primates evolved into early haplorhines, including the anthropoids - Subsequent adaptive radiations led to separate groups of New World monkeys, Old World monkeys, and the first primitive apes Primate Origins - Continental Drift and Primate Evolution o Continental Drift – The movement of continental land masses on top of a partially molten layer of the earth’s mantle that has altered the relative location of the continents over time o Most of the fossil evidence on primate origins comes from the deposits over 55 million years ago in NorthAmerica and Europe of a group of insectivores known as the primate-like mammals o Roughly 230 mya, all the countries were joined together as one large land mass o By 180 mya, this large mass had split in two: one containing NorthAmerica, Europe, andAsian, and the other containing SouthAmerica,Africa,Australia, andAntartica - The Primate-like Mammals o Paleocene epoch – The first epoch of the Cenozoic era, dating between 65.5 million and 55.8 million years ago. The primate-like mammals appeared during the Paleocene. o Plesiadapiforms were small creatures, that were quadrupedal mammals whose arms and legs were well adaptive for climbing; now not considered true primates o Carpolestes simpsoni - Aspecies of primate-like mammals that had some derived primate traits, such as a grasping foot and an opposable big toe. This species is intermediate in many respects between primitive primate-like mammals and true primates. o Because Carpolestes shows grasping hands but not stereoscopic vision, it appears clear that grasping hands came first in the evolutionary sequence of primate origins o The fact of grasping hands, combined with dental evidence pointing to a diet of fruits, supports a model of primate origins whereby Carpolestes evolved grasping hands to allow successful feeding on fruits and flowers at the ends of branches o Grasping hands would have allowed Carpolestes to eat more food in less time and to do so more safely - The First Primates o Eocene epoch – The second epoch of the Cenozoic era, dating between 55.8 million and 33.9 million years ago. The first true primates, primitive prosimians, appeared during the Eocene Notes From Reading C HAPTER 9: PRIMATE O RIGIN AND  EVOLUTION  PGS. 215­233) o During the Eocene, there was an adaptive radiation of the first true primates – early primitive species o This adaptive radiation was part of the general increase in the diversity of mammals associated with the warming of the climate and related environmental changes, and almost 200 different primate species have been discovered o One group of early Eocene primates shows similarity to later strepsirhines, some of which may have been ancestral to modern-day lemurs and lorises o The other group may be ancestral to later haplorhines, including anthropoids Anthropoid Origins - There is evidence of earlyAfrican anthropoids close to 40 million years ago that shows considerable diversity - Old World Anthropoids o Oligocene epoch – The third epoch of the Cenozoic era, dating between 33.9 million and 23.0 million years ago. Anthropoids underwent an adaptive radiation during the Oligocene. o The change in climate seems to have resulted in the southward movement of primate populations, and we find little evidence of further evolution in North America or Europe o Most of the fossil evidence for anthropoid evolution is found inAfrica and South America and in parts of easternAsia o The Oligocene primates show the continued radiation of anthropoid forms in
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