June 5, 2020


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Ancient teeth from Peru hint now-extinct monkeys crossed Atlantic from Africa

Image: Small molar tooth of the parapithecid monkey Ucayalipithecus from the Oligocene of Perú check out...

Image: Small molar tooth of the parapithecid monkey Ucayalipithecus from the Oligocene of Perú
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Credit history: Erik Seiffert

Four fossilized monkey tooth uncovered deep in the Peruvian Amazon supply new evidence that a lot more than a single team of historic primates journeyed across the Atlantic Ocean from Africa, in accordance to new USC investigate just printed in the journal Science.

The tooth are from a newly uncovered species belonging to an extinct loved ones of African primates identified as parapithecids. Fossils uncovered at the same web page in Peru had before made available the initially evidence that South American monkeys progressed from African primates.

The monkeys are thought to have designed the a lot more than 900-mile journey on floating rafts of vegetation that broke off from coastlines, probably during a storm.

“This is a entirely special discovery,” claimed Erik Seiffert, the study’s guide writer and Professor of Clinical Integrative Anatomical Sciences at Keck School of Medicine of USC. “It displays that in addition to the New Globe monkeys and a team of rodents identified as caviomorphs – there is this third lineage of mammals that by some means designed this incredibly inconceivable transatlantic journey to get from Africa to South The usa.”

Scientists have named the extinct monkey Ucayalipithecus perdita. The title comes from Ucayali, the region of the Peruvian Amazon wherever the tooth have been uncovered, pithikos, the Greek term for monkey and perdita, the Latin term for shed.

Ucayalipithecus perdita would have been incredibly modest, similar in size to a fashionable-day marmoset.

Relationship the migration

Scientists believe that the web page in Ucayali wherever the tooth have been uncovered is from a geological epoch identified as the Oligocene, which extended from about 34 million to 23 million yrs ago.

Centered on the age of the web page and the closeness of Ucayalipithecus to its fossil relatives from Egypt, scientists estimate the migration may well have occurred about 34 million yrs ago.

“We’re suggesting that this team may well have designed it about to South The usa correct about what we get in touch with the Eocene-Oligocene Boundary, a time period involving two geological epochs, when the Antarctic ice sheet started out to make up and the sea stage fell,” claimed Seiffert. “That may well have played a position in building it a little bit simpler for these primates to actually get across the Atlantic Ocean.”

An inconceivable discovery

Two of the Ucayalipithecus perdita tooth have been identified by Argentinean co-authors of the research in 2015 demonstrating that New Globe monkeys had African forebears. When Seiffert was requested to assistance explain these specimens in 2016, he recognized the similarity of the two damaged upper molars to an extinct 32 million-calendar year-outdated parapithecid monkey species from Egypt he had analyzed earlier.

An expedition to the Peruvian fossil web page in 2016 led to the discovery of two a lot more tooth belonging to this new species. The resemblance of these supplemental decrease tooth to those people of the Egyptian monkey tooth confirmed to Seiffert that Ucayalipithecus was descended from African ancestors.

“The factor that strikes me about this research a lot more than any other I have been included in is just how inconceivable all of it is,” claimed Seiffert. “The point that it can be this distant web page in the center of nowhere, that the possibilities of discovering these parts is exceptionally modest, to the point that we’re revealing this incredibly inconceivable journey that was designed by these early monkeys, it can be all pretty extraordinary.”


About this research

In addition to Seiffert, the study’s other authors are Marcelo Tejedor and Nelson Novo from the Instituto Patagónico de Geología y Paleontología (CCT CONICET – CENPAT) John G. Fleagle from the Department of Anatomical Sciences, Renaissance School of Medicine, Stony Brook University Fanny Cornejo and Dorien de Vries from the Interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Anthropological Sciences, Stony Brook University Mariano Bond from CONICET, División Paleontología Vertebrados, Museo de Ciencias Naturales de La Plata and Kenneth E. Campbell Jr. from the Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Natural Heritage Museum of Los Angeles County.

The research was supported by J. Wigmore, W. Rhodes, and R. Seaver, who helped to fund the 1998 expedition that led to the restoration of the Ucayalipithecus partial upper molars the Leakey Basis, Gordon Getty, and A. Stenger who supported the fieldwork in 2016 and the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the U.S. Countrywide Science Basis (BCS-1231288) which supported micro-CT scanning.

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