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J Hum Evol. 2002 Oct;43(4):479-511.

Omomyid primates (Tarsiiformes) from the Early Middle Eocene at South Pass, Greater Green River Basin, Wyoming.

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1
Department of Anthropology, Washington University, St Louis, Missouri, 63130, USA. kmmuldoo@artisci.wustl.edu

Abstract

Recent fieldwork in the Gardnerbuttean (earliest Bridgerian) sediments along the northeastern edge of the Green River Basin at South Pass, Wyoming, has yielded a large and diverse sample of omomyid (tarsiiform) primates. This assemblage includes two species each of Artimonius gen. nov., Washakius, and Omomys, one species of Anaptomorphus, Trogolemur and Uintanius, and a new, primitive species of the rare omomyine genus,Utahia. Utahia is known elsewhere only from its type locality in the Uinta Basin and its phylogenetic position is poorly understood. Utahia carina sp. nov. allows for re-evaluation of the affinities of this genus relative to other omomyines. In most characters, such as a lesser degree of molar trigonid compression, more widely open talonid notches, and a lack of molar talonid crenulation, the new species is more primitive than U. kayi. The dental anatomy of U. carina also indicates that Utahia is morphologically intermediate between washakiins and omomyins, although the balance of anatomical features places Utahia as the sister taxon to a broadly defined "Ourayini" clade. Morphological similarity between U. carina, Loveina zephyri, and primitive Washakius suggests that while the omomyin and washakiin clades may have diverged by the middle Wasatchian, substantial morphological distinctions are first evidenced only in the early Bridgerian. This may be due either to a lack of appropriate faunal samples from older sediments, or, more likely, because ecological circumstances in the early Bridgerian favored omomyine diversification and subsequent replacement of previously occurring taxa. This hypothesis is further supported by the stratigraphic co-occurrence of U. carina, W. izetti, and a primitive variant of W. insignis at South Pass, a marginal area. Basin margins have been hypothesized to provide heterogeneous habitats conducive to the production of evolutionary innovation. Basin margin samples have also been cited as evidence that anaptomorphines were relegated to upland refugia as omomyine taxa began to appear in the later part of the early Eocene. Another possible explanation for the unusual co-occurrence of species at South Pass relates to fluctuating lake levels in the Green River Basin, which intermittently would have made lowland environments inhospitable for arboreal fauna. This would have created a situation whereby species which would normally be allopatric become sympatric at South Pass.

PMID:
12393005
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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