Scientists Describe Earliest Primate Fossils

The new species Purgatorius mckeeveri is named after Frank McKeever, who was among the first residents of the area where the fossils were discovered, and also the family of John and Cathy McKeever, who have since supported the field work where the oldest specimen of this new species was discovered.

“This was a really cool study to be a part of, particularly because it provides further evidence that the earliest primates originated before the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs,” Co-author and UW Earth and Space Sciences Graduate Student Brody Hovatter said. “They became highly abundant within a million years after that extinction.”

“This discovery is exciting because it represents the oldest dated occurrence of archaic primates in the fossil record,” Chester said. “It adds to our understanding of how the earliest primates separated themselves from their competitors following the demise of the dinosaurs.”

The team of researchers who collaborated together alongside Gregory Wilson Mantilla and Stephen Chester includes: William Clemens, University of California Museum of Paleontology; Jason Moore, University of New Mexico; Courtney Sprain, University of Florida and University of California Berkeley; Brody Hovatter, University of Washington; William Mitchell, Minnesota IT Services; Wade Mans, University of New Mexico; Roland Mundil, Berkeley Geochronology Center; and Paul Renne, University of California, Berkeley.

For high resolution images and interviews, contact [email protected]. 

Study Information: Gregory Wilson Mantilla, Stephen Chester, William Clemens, Jason Moore, Courtney Sprain, Brody Hovatter, William Mitchell, Wade Mans, Roland Mundil, Paul Renne. February 24, 2021. Earliest Palaeocene purgatoriids and the initial radiation of stem primates. Royal Society Open Science. DOI: 

Article Source: Burke Museum