Extinct “Monkey Lemur” Exhibits Shocking Similarities to Fossil People

Archaeolemur Skull

Archaeolemur cranium exhibiting a big and strong anterior dentition. Credit score: Ian Towle

Fascinating clues to the evolution of people have been revealed by the evaluation of the enamel of extinct lemurs. That is in line with the findings of a brand new examine by the College of Otago in New Zealand.

Dr. Ian Towle, lead creator of the examine, says the “surprisingly giant” monkey lemur, Archaeolemur, had novel anatomical options not seen in residing lemurs, similar to missing a ‘tooth comb’ within the entrance of the mouth for grooming. Towle is within the College of Dentistry of the Sir John Walsh Analysis Institute on the College of Otago.

“These extinct lemurs are so completely different to these alive right now. In addition they present fascinating similarities to monkeys and apes, together with people,” he says.

The examine, printed on December 8 within the American Journal of Organic Anthropology, aimed to evaluate the weight loss plan of Archaeolemur by analyzing chipping in 447 enamel, evaluating chipping frequencies to these of different primates.

Ian Towle

Dr. Ian Towle. Credit score: College of Otago

The outcomes have been shocking – with these outstanding extinct lemurs with dentitions resembling baboons in form; however presenting tooth-chipping patterns just like fossil hominins similar to Neanderthals.

Archaeolemur tooth chipping patterns are not like any residing primate, with their entrance enamel exhibiting substantial fractures, typically with quite a few tooth chips on a single tooth, but little or no chipping on their again enamel.

“Comparable tooth fracture patterns are noticed in fossil hominins, similar to Neanderthals. Sometimes, in Neanderthals these fracture patterns are regarded as associated to tool-use behaviors,” Dr. Towle says.

The outcomes match with earlier analysis on Archaeolemur, particularly, proof that their giant and strong entrance enamel could have been used to course of a weight loss plan containing exhausting and difficult meals.

Dr. Towle thinks the examine raises the “fascinating risk” that stone instruments don’t essentially clarify the excessive price of fractures on Neanderthal enamel.

Archaeolemur exhibits related tooth chipping patterns, but there is no such thing as a proof to counsel they have been able to, or used, such instruments.

“Learning extinct primates not solely gives essential perception into their weight loss plan and conduct, but in addition elucidates our personal evolutionary historical past.”

Given the overlap in cranium and dental form, and potential similarities in weight loss plan and conduct, it’s maybe not shocking that Archaeolemur was regarded as an ape when first found in Madagascar over 100 years in the past.

Archaeolemur is a superb instance of convergent evolution, exhibiting outstanding similarities to monkeys and apes. This species additionally highlights the extent to which lemurs in Madagascar diversified into a wide range of ecological niches.”

Reference: “Tooth chipping patterns in Archaeolemur present perception into weight loss plan and conduct” by Ian Towle, Paul J. Constantino, Matthew R. Borths and Carolina Loch, 8 December 2022, American Journal of Organic Anthropology.
DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.24674

Dr. Carolina Loch, additionally from Sir John Walsh Analysis Institute, and who mentored Dr. Towle throughout his tenure as postdoctoral fellow on the SJWRI, says the analysis is one other nice instance of the “breadth and depth of multidisciplinary analysis” on the College of Dentistry.

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