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Keywords:

  • Cranial anatomy;
  • Eocene primates;
  • Adapidae;
  • Adapis;
  • Brain size

Abstract

One of the most complete skulls of the early primate Adapis parisiensis is in the collection of the Department of Zoology, Cambridge University. This exceptionally well-preserved male skull, from Quercy in southern France, is important in showing relatively small orbits that are highly convergent, a distinct ethmoid component in the medial orbital wall, very small infraorbital foramina, a well-preserved auditory region with the stapedial canal about twice the diameter of the canal for the promontory artery, and a well-preserved braincase 8.8 cm3 in endocranial volume. The frontal lobe of the brain in the Cambridge skull described here is less expanded than that reported previously in a British Museum skull. The average body weight of Adapis parisiensis is estimated to have been about 2.0 kg, and that of Adapis magnus is estimated to have been about 8.4 to 9.0 kg. The encephalization quotient (EQ) of Adapis parisiensis is estimated to have been 0.45, which is well below the range found in modern prosimians. There is some indication that the size of the foramen magnum has increased with increasing brain size during primate evolution. Adapis parisiensis appears to have been a medium-sized, visually oriented, diurnal, sexually dimorphic arboreal folivore.