Primate’s Janky Teeth Defy Classification

Posted by on May 13th, 2010


A newly discovered African primate who lived 37 million years ago, is baffling researchers who can’t seem to classify it among any known family tree. The biggest mystery? The primate’s weird teeth.

“It comes as a bit of a shock to find a primate that defies classification,” said study researcher Erik Seiffert of New York’s Stony Brook University.

The 12 fossil teeth, the only remnants the paleontologists have of this primate so far, were found in northern Egypt. The new species is called Nosmips aenigmaticus.

During the last 30 years or so, three major primate groups have been established as being present in Africa some 55 million to 34 million years ago: early monkeys, lemur-like primates, and an extinct group called adapiforms, Seiffert said.

Nosmips’ teeth place this primate in Africa at the same time. What’s more, its teeth suggest it could be an evolutionary oddity that is not closely related to any of these groups.

Good luck on the Molar Mystery!

[Live Science]

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