18. Primate Origins

  1. David R. Begun
  1. Mary T. Silcox

Published Online: 14 JAN 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118332344.ch18

A Companion to Paleoanthropology

A Companion to Paleoanthropology

How to Cite

Silcox, M. T. (2013) Primate Origins, in A Companion to Paleoanthropology (ed D. R. Begun), Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Oxford. doi: 10.1002/9781118332344.ch18

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 14 JAN 2013
  2. Published Print: 25 FEB 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444331165

Online ISBN: 9781118332344



  • early tertiary primates;
  • fossil record;
  • primate origins;
  • primate taxa


Discussions of the origins of the Order Primates have traditionally begun by identifying features of living primates. A critical component of thinking about the problem of primate origins has to do with approaches to taxonomy. It is important to be clear on what taxonomic strategy is being used in any discussion of the origins of the order. There are two main approaches to testing scenarios for primate origins: analogy to living forms, and reference to the fossil record. This chapter provides a brief overview of the major Early Tertiary primate taxa, and then considers relevance of this fossil record to the issue of the adaptive context of the origin of the order. A stem-based approach for primates is utilized in this chapter as it provides a clear place to put all taxa more closely related to some specific living group.