18-million-year-old creature discovered in Peru was no bigger than a hamster; helps fill a gap in the record of monkey evolution — LiveScience.Tech


A group of Peruvian and American researchers have actually discovered the 18-million-year-old remains of the tiniest fossil monkey ever discovered.

A fossilized tooth discovered in Peru’s Amazon jungle has actually been determined as coming from a brand-new types of small monkey no much heavier than a hamster.

The specimen is necessary since it helps bridge a 15-million-year gap in the fossil record for New World monkeys, states a group led by Duke University and the National University of Piura in Peru.

The brand-new fossil was uncovered from an exposed river bank along the Río Alto Madre de Dios in southeastern Peru. There, scientists collected pieces of sandstone and gravel, put them in bags, and carried them away to be soaked in water and after that strained through screens to filter out the fossilized teeth, jaws, and bone pieces buried within.

The group explored some 2,000 pounds of sediment consisting of hundreds of fossils of rodents, bats and other animals prior to they found the only monkey tooth.

“Primate fossils are as rare as hen’s teeth,” stated very first author Richard Kay, a teacher of evolutionary sociology at Duke who has actually been doing paleontological research study in South America for almost 4 years.

A single upper molar, the specimen was simply “double the size of the head of a pin” and “could fall through a window screen,” Kay stated.

Paleontologists can inform a lot from monkey teeth, especially molars. Based upon the tooth’s relative shapes and size, the scientists believe the animal most likely dined on energy-rich fruits and bugs, and weighed in at less than half a pound — just somewhat much heavier than a baseball. Some of South America’s bigger monkeys, such as howlers and muriquis, can grow to 50 times that heft.

“It’s by far the smallest fossil monkey that’s ever been found worldwide,” Kay stated. Just one monkey types alive today, the teacup-sized pygmy marmoset, is smaller sized, “but barely,” Kay stated.

In a paper released online July 23 in the Journal of Human Evolution, the group called the animal Parvimico materdei, or “tiny monkey from the Mother of God River.”

Now kept in the irreversible collections of the Institute of Paleontology at Peru’s National University of Piura, the discover is necessary since it’s one of the couple of ideas researchers have from a essential missing out on chapter in monkey evolution.

Monkeys are believed to have actually gotten here in South America from Africa some 40 million years earlier, rapidly diversifying into the 150-plus New World types we understand today, a lot of of which occupy the Amazon jungle. Yet precisely how that procedure unfolded is a bit of a secret, in big part since of a gap in the monkey fossil record in between 13 and 31 million years ago with just a couple of pieces.

Because gap lies Parvimico. The brand-new fossil go back 17 to 19 million years, which puts it “smack dab in the time and place when we would have expected diversification to have occurred in the New World monkeys,” Kay stated.

The group is presently on another fossil gathering exploration in the Peruvian Amazon that will finish up in August, focusing their efforts in remote river websites with 30-million-year-old sediments.

“If we find a primate there, that would really be pay dirt,” Kay stated.

Other authors consist of Jean-Nöel Martinez and Luis Angel Valdivia of the National University of Piura, Lauren Gonzales of the University of South Carolina, Wout Salenbien and Paul Baker of Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, Siobhán Cooke of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medication, and Catherine Rigsby of East Carolina University.

This research study was supported by the National Science Structure (EAR 1338694, DDIG 0726134) and the National Geographic Society (Young Explorers Grant 9920-16 and Waitt Grant W449-16).

Story Source:

Products supplied by Duke University. Initial composed by Robin A. Smith. Note: Material might be modified for design and length.

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