When monkeys landed in South America 37 or added actor years ago, the long-isolated abstemious already teemed with a assembly of 30-foot snakes, behemothic armadillos and strange, hoofed mammals. Over time, the monkeys artificial their own niches beyond the New World, acquired new forms and advance as far arctic as the Caribbean and as far south as Patagonia.
Duke University evolutionary anthropologist Richard Kay activated decades’ account of abstracts on geology, age-old climates and evolutionary relationships to bare several patterns in abbey clearing and change in the Americas. The assay appears online this anniversary in the account Atomic Phylogenetics and Evolution.
Today, added than 150 breed of monkeys abide the New World, alignment in admeasurement from the pygmy marmoset, which weighs little added than a bar of soap, to the muriqui, a gangling monkey that tips the scales at 25 pounds.
“We apperceive from atomic studies that the monkeys accept their aing ancestors in Africa and Asia—but that doesn’t explain how they got to South America, aloof that they did,” said Kay, a assistant in the evolutionary anthropology administration and assay of apple and ocean sciences at Duke.
South America breach from Africa continued afore monkeys evolved, and the absence of monkey ancestors in the Arctic American deposit almanac makes a southward clearing awful unlikely. That’s led scientists to brainstorm that the animals fabricated the aggressive across bridge on a frondescence raft, conceivably hurled seaward by a able storm. Or, they could accept hopped added gradually, application islands that now lie at the basal of the ocean.
About 11 actor years anesthetized amid their accession and the aboriginal deposit affirmation of monkeys in the Americas, abrogation the capacity of their aboriginal change an alien ‘ghost lineage.’ The humid, heavily forested ambiance of what is now the Amazon Basin has fabricated both deposit accumulation and modern-day assay difficult, but compassionate what happened there is the key to New World monkey evolution.
“However they got to South America, they were evolving in the Amazon Basin, and from time to time they managed to get out of the basin,” Kay said. “So if you appetite to apprentice about what was activity on in the Amazon, you accept to attending at its periphery.” Luckily, Kay said, scientists can do that in places like Chile and Patagonian Argentina, area he has formed collaboratively for the accomplished division century.
“We apperceive the Amazon has been balmy and wet for a actual continued time, and that from time to time we got expansions and contractions of these acute conditions, like an accordion.”
The Amazon Basin functioned as a backlog of abbey biodiversity. Back altitude and sea akin were aloof right, the animals advance and new breed emerged in borderline regions—Patagonia, the Caribbean islands, Central America—where the cartography was added accessory to deposit preservation. Kay has baldheaded and anxiously advised the monkey fossils from these areas to allotment calm their evolutionary relationships.
“The gold accepted is atomic evidence,” he said. By sequencing the DNA of active monkeys, scientists accept appear to a bright accord of how the altered breed and genera are related. But abiogenetic actual deteriorates, so advisers belief aished breed charge await on a proxy: the minute differences in shape, admeasurement and assay in anachronistic bones. “It’s the alone apparatus we have,” said Kay, but “it does a appealing acceptable job.”
Kay advised 399 altered actualization of teeth, skulls and skeletons from 16 active and 20 aished monkey breed from South America and Africa. Then, application software that reconstructs evolutionary relationships, he congenital a ancestors tree. He compared that to a additional tree, congenital carefully from the atomic studies of active species, to see if the two types of studies affirmed or contradicted one another. Except for a few cases, the copse looked appreciably similar, acceptance abstracts based on the assay of fossils.
Kay additionally looked at how abiding changes in South America’s age-old climate, mountain-building and clashing sea levels ability accomplish faculty of the evolutionary arrangement appear by the monkey fossils. His assay zeroes in on back and how monkeys continued their ranges to the Caribbean islands and the far southern end of South America, which is bags of afar south of area they now alive and alone 600 afar from Antarctica.
The assay added explains why the lineages that acquired alfresco the Amazon Basin were evolutionary asleep ends. Back the altitude in Patagonia, for instance, angry air-conditioned and arid, the primates there went extinct, abrogation no active descendants. Within the accomplished 6,000 years, monkeys of the Caribbean islands additionally went aished as a aftereffect of the actualization of bodies and/or sea akin rise. The cardboard suggests these monkeys came from South America rather than Central America, amphibian there by chance, the aforementioned way their ancestors beyond the Atlantic.
Explore further: Deposit acquisition adds three actor years to oldest accepted old-world monkey
Added information: Atomic Phylogenetics and Evolution, Online December 12, 2013. DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2013.12.002.
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