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Science. 1990 Mar 30;247(4950):1567-9.

Discovery of the oldest known anthropoidean skull from the paleogene of Egypt.

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  • 1Department of Biological Anthropology and Anatomy, Duke University, Durham, NC.


A group of primate fossils newly discovered in the Fayum badlands of Egypt is probably of Eocene age. The site is much older than the localities of previously known Egyptian early Tertiary primates. These finds include a crushed cranium that is the oldest skull found to date of a higher primate. This skull shows four characteristics of higher primates: a catarrhine dental formula, an ectotympanic at the rim of the auditory bulla, a fused frontal bone, and postorbital closure. Details of tooth structure (premolars and molars) and a possibly unfused mandibular symphysis resemble these parts in certain Eocene prosimians.

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