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New Fossil Discovery In India Challenges Existing Theory Of Primate Evolution

Published on 14 September, 2016 at 3:24 pm By

Well preserved fossils of small extinct primate like animals were found in Vastan coal mine in Gujarat, India which challenge the preexisting idea of the evolution of primates. These mammals highly resemble the present day Gray mouse lemurs which are abundantly found in India.


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The Gray Mouse Lemur

The Gray Mouse Lemur

A set of 25 arm, leg, ankle and foot fossils, dating to roughly 54.5 million years ago, raises India’s profile as a possible hotbed of early primate evolution, say evolutionary biologist Rachel Dunn of Des Moines University in Iowa and her colleagues. 

090216_bb_early-primate_inset_free

Leg bones of the tiny, 54.5-million-year-old primate.

These tiny mouse like creatures that lived on trees resemble the first primates that existed almost 65 million years, around the time the dinosaurs got extinct, scientists report in the OctoberJournal of Human Evolution.

“It’s possible that India played an important role in primate evolution,” says evolutionary anthropologist Doug Boyer of Duke University. A team led by Boyer reported in 2010 that a roughly 65-million-year-old fossil found in southern India might be a close relative of the common ancestor of primates, tree shrews and flying lemurs (which glide rather than fly and are not true lemurs).

During the time these animals were alive, India was a free floating continent which was heading towards Asia on a collision course. The species existing there were totally disconnect with the rest of the world which gave them a chance to evolve their own characteristics, different from species existing elsewhere.



 

India_71-0_Ma

Primates are thought to have evolved in Asia then spread to the rest of the world from there. It is possible that primates and their close relatives evolved in isolation on the island continent of India between 65 million and 55 million years ago and when India Merged with Asia these species spread throughout the continent. Although there are Chinese Primate Fossils which are little bit older than the ones found in the Vastan Mines which challenge this idea.


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