A team of paleontologists with members from France, Brazil and Argentina has found evidence of a third type of monkey that crossed the Atlantic Ocean millions of years ago, making the trip from Africa to the South America. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team described a tooth they found embedded in rock along the Juruá River in the Amazonian, Brazil, and their theories about where its former owner might fit in the animal kingdom.
The tooth is a molar with cusps indicating that it is an extinct ape and also an eosimid (a theoretically extinct family of primates). Study of the tooth suggests that it came from a small species, probably about the size of a modern marmoset. It can also eat in the same way as a marmoset on fruits and insects.
The team also found evidence suggesting it was not a member of two other species of primates known to have crossed the Atlantic Ocean from Africa to South America about 34 million years ago. That makes it an unknown primate taxon, with a possible associated clade.
The research team named the new taxon Ashaninkacebus simpsoni. Further testing showed that the newly found tooth probably came from an ape that lived during the transition period between the Eocene and Oligocene.
To learn more about where the ancient monkey might fit in with other primates in the animal kingdom, the team subjected the tooth to a CT scan and compared the scans to others made on other simian primates. . They found similarities between A. simpsoni and extinct species that once lived in what is now South Asia. The team then conducted a phylogenetic analysis, comparing the new taxon to Old World anthropoids and apes that now live in South America. They found that one member of the taxon, or perhaps more than one, must have traveled across the ocean.
Early research suggests that such a journey could be made by a monkey riding a raft of plants blown into the ocean by a big storm. The discovery of a new family of monkeys crossing the oceans suggests it may be more common than previously thought.
Laurent Marivaux et al, An eosimiid primate of South Asian affinities in the Paleogene of Western Amazonia and the origin of New World monkeys, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2023). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2301338120
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Citation: Ancient teeth suggest third type of monkey traveled from Africa to South America millions of years ago (2023, July 20) retrieved July 20, 2023 from https://phys.org/ news/2023-07-ancient-tooth-kind- monkey-africa.html
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