Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Science File | Science in Brief

Prehistoric Monkey Brings New Insight Into Evolution of Primates

May 23, 1996|From Times staff and wire reports

A prehistoric monkey skeleton found in a Brazilian cave shows such an odd combination of traits that scientists will have to revise their views on how some South American monkeys evolved, researchers report in the May 23 edition of Nature. The skull makes the creature look like a howler monkey, a modern-day creature that howls louder than lions and scrambles along the tops of branches. But below the neck, it looks like a spider monkey, which hangs from branches by its arms and tail.

The howler and spider monkeys were thought to have evolved independently. The find "clearly shows there was a lot more going on in the evolutionary history of New World monkeys than we thought before," said paleontologist John Flynn of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. At the moment, researchers believe the monkey, called Protopithecus brasiliensis, is a close relative of howler monkeys that somehow acquired a body like a spider monkey.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|