An anthropoid primate humerus from the Rukwa Rift Basin, Paleogene of southwestern Tanzania

Stevens, Nancy J., O'Connor, Patrick M., Gottfried, Michael D., Roberts, Eric M., and Ngasala, Sifael (2005) An anthropoid primate humerus from the Rukwa Rift Basin, Paleogene of southwestern Tanzania. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 25 (4). pp. 986-989.

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African early Tertiary paleontological sites are notoriously patchy, both spatially and temporally. The vast majority of Paleogene primate fossils have been recovered from sites in the northern portion of the continent (e.g., Thomas et al., 1991; Godinot and Mahboubi, 1992; Hartenberger and Marandat, 1992; Godinot, 1994), with the most extensive record from the Fayum Depression of Egypt (e.g., Osborn, 1908; Simons and Kay, 1983; Simons et al., 1994; Simons, 1995; Simons and Rasmussen, 1995; Simons et al., 2001). Sub-equatorial deposits are relatively sparse, and no primate postcranial remains have been described from Paleogene deposits in sub-Saharan Africa. The rarity of Paleogene strata from much of Africa poses problems not only for understanding the geographical extent and evolutionary significance of faunas occupying the majority of the continental landmass, it also provides obstacles to reconstructing biogeographic histories of a variety of clades, including primates (Stevens and Heesy, 2000; Ducrocq, 2001; Gunnell and Miller, 2001; Heesy et al., in press).

In contrast, numerous sites in East Africa have provided a wealth of information concerning the Neogene primate record (e.g., Fleagle and Simons, 1978; Leakey et al., 1995; Harrison, 1997; MacLatchy and Pilbeam, 1999; Kingston et al., 2002). Until relatively recently, the earliest Tertiary faunas reported from East Africa were Miocene in age. New finds from older Tertiary sites suggest that this region also holds keys to understanding issues deeper in paleontological history (e.g., Leakey et al., 1995b; Murray, 2000; Harrison et al., 2001; Gunnell et al., 2002; Kappelman et al., 2003; Stevens et al., 2004).

Here we describe a diminutive anthropoid primate humerus recovered from Paleogene deposits in southwestern Tanzania. In many features this specimen resembles basal anthropoids described from the Paleogene Jebel el Qatrani Formation of Egypt, constituting the first primate postcranial record from the Paleogene of sub-Saharan Africa.

Item ID: 18502
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1937-2809
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2011 07:04
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040308 Palaeontology (incl Palynology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970104 Expanding Knowledge in the Earth Sciences @ 100%
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