2005 Volume 113 Issue 1 Pages 27-32
Paleogene temporal and paleogeographic constraints on mammalian faunal interchange between Africa and Eurasia are reassessed in order to discuss the origin of Primates, Anthropoidea, and Catarrhini. During the late Paleocene to early Eocene interval, the fossil record indicates faunal exchange between Africa and the North Tethyan areas involving several groups of mammals, such as the earliest primates, carnivores, and some archaic ungulates. The polarities of such dispersal events are unresolved to date. Regarding the paleogeography of anthropoid origins, previous cladistic assessments argued for a dispersal from Asia to Africa during the early Eocene. However, faunal exchange during that period has been documented only between Africa and Europe. A speculative basis for an Asian origin of African zegdoumyid rodents is the only body of evidence that suggests that the earliest anthropoids might have migrated to Africa from Asia. Finally, according to the putative occurrence of catarrhines (amphipithecids) in the middle Eocene of Asia, a middle Eocene migration event towards Africa is proposed, although this is supported only by hystricognath and anomaluroid rodents, and by anthracotheriid artiodactyls. In conclusion, the early paleobiogeographic history of anthropoids remains conjectural because of the lack of phylogenetic resolution.