Close-up on primates first

An American team analyzed several fossils of Pragatarius, the oldest genus of primates. These small mammals looked like big rats and probably climbed trees. They are the basis of this group, which has given birth to the current species including great apes and humans.

Appeared among the dinosaurs

There are four different species of Purgatorius primates that appear in the fossil record shortly after the Cretaceous / Tertiary boundary – marking the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs and many other species around 66 million years ago. New fossils, teeth discovered in the United States in the area of ​​Hale Creek in northeastern Montana and 65.9 million years ago, allow us to understand the rise of primates after the Chitxbul disaster between 105,000 and 139,000 years ago.

The study, which is based on analysis of these teeth and published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, Indicates that the ancestors of all primates presumably emerged in the Late Cretaceous and lived with large dinosaurs. The new fossils include two species of Purgatorius: Purgatorius Janisse And the name of a new species Purgatorius mckeeveri Which is distinguished by specialties in the architecture of teeth.

High resolution CT images of Purgatorius teeth and jaws. Credit: Gregory Wilson Mentilla / Stephen Chester.

varied diet

Purgatorius was small in size and had very special diets. Depending on the species, they eat insects or fruits that they found in their forest habitats. They were among the first mammals to diversify and gradually captured ecological trails left free by dinosaurs. Nearly 1 million years after his disappearance, Pergatorius was roaming the New World of the Cenozoic. Long known by the remains of teeth and jaws, these primates have begun to uncover some mysteries in recent years thanks to the discovery of more complete fossils; Thus greater mobility was detected in the ankle bones. A feature that suggests that he spent most of his life in trees. These distant ancestors of man thus confirmed Pascal Picque’s famous affair: “Humans do not descend from monkeys, they descend from trees“.

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