News

Lemurs reveal clues to ancient Asian roots

By
11:33am, October 17, 2001

Bug-eyed primate cousins of monkeys and apes, lemurs currently live in the wild

only on the African island of Madagascar. About 30 million years ago, however, a

diminutive lemur species inhabited what is now central Pakistan, a new fossil find

suggests.

The handful of teeth unearthed in Pakistan's Bugti Hills represents the oldest

known lemur, contends an international team led by paleontologist Laurent Marivaux

of Université Montpellier in France. This discovery raises the possibility that

lemurs originated in southern Asia, not in Africa as many investigators have

assumed.

Only further fossil finds on both continents will unravel the evolutionary roots

of so-called strepsirrhine primates, which consist of lemurs and their close

relatives the lorises, the scientists conclude in the Oct. 19 Science. "The time

has come for the Asian scenario to receive more serious attention," Marivaux says.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.

More from Science News