(ORDO NEWS) — An analysis of the teeth of extinct lemurs has provided interesting insights into human evolution, a University of Otago study has found.
The study aimed to evaluate the diet of archaeo lemurs by analyzing the chipping of 447 teeth and comparing chipping rates with those of other primates.
The results were unexpected: these wonderful extinct lemurs with teeth resembled baboons in shape; but with tooth chipping patterns similar to fossil hominids such as Neanderthals.
Lead author, Dr Ian Thawl of the Sir John Research Institute, says the “surprisingly large” monkey lemur, the archaeolemur, had new anatomical features not found in modern lemurs, such as the absence of a “tooth comb” at the front of the mouth for grooming. .
“These extinct lemurs are so different from the living ones. They also show a striking resemblance to marmosets and great apes, including humans,” he says.
He explained that the tooth chipping patterns of Archaeolemurs are unlike those of any living primate: their front teeth have significant cracks, often with multiple chips on one tooth, but very few chips on their back teeth.
Similar tooth fracture patterns are seen in fossil hominins such as Neanderthals. In Neanderthals, these fracture patterns are generally thought to be related to tool-using behavior.
The results are consistent with previous studies of archaeolemurs, in particular evidence that their large and strong front teeth may have been used to process a diet containing hard and tough foods.
Dr. Taul said the study raises the “exciting possibility” that stone tools do not necessarily explain the high incidence of Neanderthal tooth fractures.
“Archaeolemurs have similar tooth chipping patterns, but there is no evidence that they were capable of or used such tools.
Studying extinct primates not only provides key insights into their diet and behavior, but also sheds light on our own evolutionary history,” he said.
Given the overlap in skull and tooth shape, and potential similarities in diet and behavior, it is perhaps not surprising that the archaeolemur was thought to be an ape when it was first discovered in Madagascar over 100 years ago.
“Archaeolemur is a brilliant example of convergent evolution, showing a striking resemblance to apes and great apes.
This species also underlines the degree of diversification of lemurs in Madagascar in various ecological niches,” the expert emphasized.
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