Saturday, October 23, 2021

65 Million Year Old Primate Fossils Found In Montana | Paleontology

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Paleontologists in the United States have discovered and analyzed the fossilized remains of two species of Purgatorius, the oldest genus of a group of the earliest known primates called Plesiadapiformes.

Shortly after the late Cretaceous mass extinction, the first known primates, such as Purgatorius mckeeveri shown in the foreground, quickly set themselves apart from their competitors – such as the archaic ungulate mammal on the forest floor – by specializing in an omnivorous diet including fruits found in trees. Image credit: Andrey Atuchin.

Plesiadapiformes first appeared during the Paleocene epoch, between 65 and 55 million years ago, although many disappeared at the beginning of the Eocene epoch.

These ancient primates were small in stature and had specialized insect and fruit diets that varied among species.

They are essential for understanding the evolutionary and ecological origins of primates, tree shrubs, and colugos, as well as the traits that separate these groups from other mammals.

Five new isolated plesiadapiform teeth were recovered from the Harley’s Point locality of the Fort Union Formation in northeastern Montana.

The fossils are estimated at 65.9…

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