The earliest primates


  • Kenneth D. Rose

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    • Kenneth D. Rose is professor of anatomy at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, and research associate in vertebrate I paleontology at the Smithsonian Institution and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. He has published extensively on the anatomy, relationships, and evolution of early Cenozoic mammals, with particular attention to early primates. Much of his research draws directly from fossils collected during his more than twenty years of field work in Paleocene and Eocene strata of Wyoming.


Remarkable new fossil discoveries and intensive study of fossil evidence has led, during the past decade, and particularly the last few years, to exceptional advances and modifications in our understanding of early primate evolution. New insights have also come from research on extant primates, especially detailed anatomical, functional, and molecular studies. This review, however, focuses on the paleontological evidence. New fossils are spawning novel, sometimes controversial ideas about the relationships within and among primates and their allies—a situation that has caused temporary instability, but should eventually lead to elucidation, if not resolution, of outstanding problems.