Partial skeleton reveals primate ancestors dwelled in trees

A 62-million- year-old partial skeleton discovered in New Mexico confirms that early primate ancestors preferred to dwell in trees.

The New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science reports that the skeleton was uncovered in New Mexico’s San Juan Basin by Thomas Williamson and his twin sons, Taylor and Ryan. Williamson is the curator of Paleontology at the Museum.

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The skeleton is the oldest known primate skeleton and consists of 20 different bones, including the cranium, jaws, teeth and portions of upper and lower limbs, according to the museum. The primate was found to have features that favored living in trees, such as flexible joints used for climbing and clinging to branches.

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Researchers say their findings support the hypothesis that plesiadapiforms were the earliest primates. They make their first appearance in the fossil record just after non-avian dinosaurs became extinct, according to the museum. The new data supports the theory “that all of the geologically oldest primates known from skeletal remains, encompassing several species, were arboreal,” wrote the museum.

Stephen Chester, an assistant professor at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and curatorial affiliate of…

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