stewart disotell CB 98

stewart disotell CB 98 - R582 Review Primate evolution in...

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R582 Review Primate evolution — in and out of Africa Caro-Beth Stewart* and Todd R. Disotell A synthetic analysis of molecular, fossil and biogeographical data gives a remarkably consistent scenario for the evolution of the catarrhine primates — the hominoids and Old World monkeys. This analysis supports the African location of the common ancestor of the Old World monkeys, and suggests that the Asian colobine monkeys and macaques dispersed out of Africa into Eurasia within the past ten million years. More interestingly and controversially, this analysis further suggests that the lineage leading to the living hominoids dispersed out of Africa about twenty million years ago, and that the common ancestor of the living African apes, including humans, migrated back into Africa from Eurasia within about the past ten million years. Addresses: *Department of Biological Sciences, University at Albany, State University of New York, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany, New York 12222, USA. Department of Anthropology, New York University, 25 Waverly Place, New York, New York 10003, USA. E-mail: [email protected]; [email protected] Current Biology 1998, 8:R582–R588 © Current Biology Publications ISSN 0960-9822 Introduction The hominoids — apes and humans — and Old World monkeys are collectively named the catarrhine primates. Today, with the exception of humans, the catarrhines are native to Africa and southeastern Asia, but the fossil record indicates that apes and monkeys were also present in Europe and western Asia during the Miocene, from about 5 to 17 million years ago [1,2]. The African and Eurasian land masses have often been separated by water, which imposes a barrier to dispersal of land mammals. Furthermore, north- ern Africa and southwestern Asia have sometimes had, as they have now, a desert-like environment that is unsuitable for forest-dwelling species. The exact times, locations and environments of the various land bridges between Africa and Eurasia are still under debate (see Figure 1), but it is clear that the catarrhines must have moved between the two land masses several times during evolutionary history to account for both their genetic relationships and geo- graphical distributions. Despite many years of study by sci- entists from diverse disciplines, the geographical origins, dispersal patterns and evolutionary histories of the catarrhine primates remain controversial [1–4]. As discussed here, however, we find that recent parsimony analyses of key catarrhine fossils, numerous molecular phylogenetic studies and the geographical distributions of the species can be integrated to give a consistent scenario for the evolutionary history of this group. The well-dated phylogeny that emerges provides a powerful framework for the study of the rate and mode of molecular evolution in the primates (see [5], for example). Such a phylogeny is necessary for a correct evolutionary interpretation of the
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stewart disotell CB 98 - R582 Review Primate evolution in...

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