ARCHICEBUS ACHILLES PDF

Share via Email A tiny, insect-eating animal with slender limbs, a long tail and weighing in at no more than 30 grams, has become the earliest known primate in the fossil record. Archicebus achilles lived on a humid, tropical lake shore 55m years ago in what is now China and is the ancestor of all modern tarsiers, monkeys, apes and humans. About 7cm long, Archicebus lived in the trees and its small, pointed teeth are evidence that its diet consisted of insects. Xijun Ni of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who led the study of the fossil, described the animal as having a very long tail, slender limbs, a round face and feet capable of grasping. A full description of the fossil is published in the latest edition of Nature.

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Share via Email A tiny, insect-eating animal with slender limbs, a long tail and weighing in at no more than 30 grams, has become the earliest known primate in the fossil record. Archicebus achilles lived on a humid, tropical lake shore 55m years ago in what is now China and is the ancestor of all modern tarsiers, monkeys, apes and humans. About 7cm long, Archicebus lived in the trees and its small, pointed teeth are evidence that its diet consisted of insects.

Xijun Ni of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who led the study of the fossil, described the animal as having a very long tail, slender limbs, a round face and feet capable of grasping. A full description of the fossil is published in the latest edition of Nature.

The analysis shows that the fossil had a mixture of features found in modern-day tarsiers, an ancient group of primates that is now restricted to the islands of South East Asia, and others found in anthropoids, the lineage through which monkeys, apes and humans later evolved. Chris Beard of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh , a co-author on the Nature paper, added that, because the animal was so small and "active metabolically, it was probably quite a frenetic animal, you could even think anxious.

Very agile in the trees, climbing and leaping around in the canopy. The world it inhabited along that lake shore in central China was amazing — hot, humid, very tropical. Dr Christophe Soligo, a biological anthropologist at University College London , said the discovery of the fossil was a significant contribution to scientific knowledge of early primate evolution.

Dr Jerry Hooker, a palaeontologist at the Natural History Museum in London , said: "Most mammal fossils, including those of primates, are fragmentary, usually consisting of isolated teeth or jaws, sometimes also other skeletal elements, and we have learned a lot from these.

Better known as Ida, it was originally thought to be a direct ancestor of the primate lineage leading to monkeys, apes and humans — but further analysis suggests Ida is closer to early lemurs. The discovery of Archicebus in China lends weight to the idea that the first and most pivotal steps in primate evolution, including the beginnings of anthropoid evolution, almost certainly took place in Asia, rather than Africa.

If we sequence the DNA of living primates and other mammals, we find out that the closest living relatives of primates are animals like tree shrews and flying lemurs and these are animals that only live today in Asia, specifically south-eastern Asia. There is some evidence of primates living in Africa about 55m years ago, but the knowledge is patchy and comes only from a few bones and teeth. At some point, the descendants of Archicebus split into the lineages that would later evolve into tarsiers and anthropoids.

The latter would then have made their journey to Africa and, millions of years later, evolved into humans. But we know it could not have been easy. The early primates somehow had to cross open water in order to colonise Africa. Timeline m years ago: Tetrapods evolve from lobe-finned fish, as animals move on to the land. Between 8m and 4m years ago: First the gorillas, and then chimpanzees and bonobos split off from the evolutionary lineage that led to humans.

Most famous fossil is Lucy. Between , and 60, years ago: Homo sapiens leaves Africa.

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Tiny, insect-eating animal becomes earliest known primate

With completeness comes more information and better evidence for the adaptive and evolutionary themes concerning primate evolution. It takes guessing out of the game. Like most other fossils recovered from ancient lake strata, the skeleton of Archicebus was found by splitting apart the thin layers of rock containing the fossil. As a result, the skeleton is now preserved in two complementary pieces, each of which contains elements of the actual skeleton as well as impressions of bones from the other side. The skeleton of Archicebus is about 7 million years older than the oldest fossil primate skeletons known previously. It belongs to an entirely separate branch of the primate evolutionary tree from those specimens, lying much closer to the lineage leading to modern monkeys, apes, and humans.

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