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Primate relatives adapted to the Arctic 52 million years ago

This content was published on January 25, 2023 – 7:49 p.m. January 25, 2023 – 7:49 p.m

Redacción Ciencia, January 25 (EFE).- During the Eocene, the climate in the Arctic was milder than on Wednesday and the first primate relatives were able to adapt to life there, albeit with limited biodiversity, such as the remains of two species evidence from 52 million years ago.

The fossils found on Ellesmere Island (Canada) allowed the team to identify two new species, Ignacius dawsonae and Ignacius mckennai. states the study published by Plos One.

The Eocene was a time of intense global warming, so the Arctic Circle was much warmer when these close primate evolutionary cousins ​​lived, although winter eclipses dominated half the year, just like today.

The team analyzed fossil fragments of jaws and teeth to identify the new species as close relatives of early primates that underwent different adaptations to their unusual environment.

Both species are relatively large, a common trait in northern mammals, and have dental features suggestive of a hard food diet.

The authors believe that finding food was much more difficult during the winter months when foods such as fruit were unavailable and they had to resort to nuts and seeds.

Thus, the teeth and even the jaw muscles of these animals changed compared to their close relatives from mid-latitudes.

During the Eocene, the lower latitudes of North America were home to many primitive primates, but these two species are only known from the Arctic, contributing to previous evidence that this ecosystem had limited biodiversity compared to more southern habitats.

The researchers suggest that while the warming climate allowed certain organisms to migrate north, this movement may be constrained by factors such as long periods of Arctic darkness. EFE


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