USA: four new fossil primate species discovered in Texas

Necrolemur, an OmomyidFrom Monkeys In The News blog in the USA:

New primate species found in 42 million-year-old Laredo fossils

Something old is now something new, thanks to Lamar University researcher Jim Westgate and colleagues.

The scientists’ research has led to the discovery of a new genus and species of primate, one long vanished from the earth but preserved in the fossil record.

Westgate is a professor of earth and space sciences at Lamar and a research associate in the Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory, Texas Natural Science Center, University of Texas-Austin.

He and his research colleagues, Dana Cope, professor of anthropology, College of Charleston, and Chris Beard, curator, Vertebrate Paleontology Section, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, announced their discovery at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in Philadelphia, Pa., today (Thursday, March 29).

Molar, pre-molar and incisor teeth from the new primate genus and three other new primate species were recovered from 42 million-year-old tropical, mangrove palm swamp deposits of the Eocene age Laredo Formation exposed in Lake Casa Blanca International State Park in Laredo.

The association of primate fossils with the skeletal remains of oysters, sharks, rays, giant aquatic snakes and crocodiles, along with mangrove palm fruits and pollen, indicates that the middle Eocene shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico lay 150 miles inland of its present position, Westgate said.

The team is preparing detailed manuscripts describing the new Omomyid primates. …

Omomyids (members of the extinct taxon Omomyidae) lived 34 to 50 million years ago during the Eocene Epoch and were one of two groups of known Eocene primates.

The other, adapids, were more lemur-like.

Fossils of these Eocene primates have been found in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

The Eocene primates are the earliest known primates. …

The presence of a diverse primate community with four species living on the Texas coast during late middle Eocene time is significant because at that time primate diversity in the northern interior of North America had diminished greatly because of global climatic cooling and uplifting of the Rocky Mountains, Westgate said.

The tropical environment on the Texas coast appears to have allowed primates to thrive locally while their relatives in the continental interior faced near extinction.

4 thoughts on “USA: four new fossil primate species discovered in Texas

  1. Published: 09:32 EST, October 14, 2008

    New fossil reveals primates lingered in Texas
    General Science / Archaeology & Fossils

    ( — More than 40 million years ago, primates preferred Texas to northern climates that were significantly cooling, according to new fossil evidence discovered by Chris Kirk, physical anthropologist at The University of Texas at Austin.

    Kirk and Blythe Williams from Duke University have discovered Diablomomys dalquesti, a new genus and species of primate that dates to 44-43 million years ago when tropical forests and active volcanoes covered west Texas.

    The researchers have published their discovery in the Journal of Human Evolution article, “New Uintan Primates from Texas and their Implications for North American Patterns of Species Richness during the Eocene.”

    During the early part of the Eocene epoch, primates were common in the tropical forests that covered most of North America. Over time, however, climatic cooling caused a dramatic decline in the abundance and diversity of North American primates. By the end of the Eocene, primates and most tropical species had almost disappeared from North America.

    Kirk’s discovery of late middle Eocene (Uintan) primates at the Devil’s Graveyard Formation in Southwest Texas reveals new information about how North American primates evolved during this period of faunal (animal) reorganization.

    “After several years of collecting new fossils, reviewing Texas’ primate community and comparing it to other places in North America, we found a much more diverse group of primate species in Texas than we expected,” Kirk said. “It seems that primates stuck around in Texas much longer than many other parts of the continent because the climate stayed warm for a longer period of time. While primate diversity was falling off precipitously in places like Utah and Wyoming during the late middle Eocene, west Texas provided a humid, tropical refuge for primates and other arboreal (tree-inhabiting) animals.”

    The anthropologists named the new primate Diablomomys dalquesti, combining “Diablo” to represent the Devil’s Graveyard Formation (sand- and mudstones near Big Bend National Park) with Omomys, a related fossil genus. The dalquesti species name honors Walter and Rose Dalquest, who donated the land on which the fossil was collected (Midwestern State University’s “Dalquest Research Site”). Walter was a Texas paleontologist and distinguished biology professor at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls until his death in 2000.

    Provided by University of Texas at Austin


  2. Pingback: Eocene fossil birds had disease unknown to science | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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  4. Pingback: New Eocene primates discovery in California | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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