Dietmar Zinner is senior scientist in the Cognitive Ethology Laboratory of the German Primate Center and lecturer at the University of Göttingen, Germany. He has worked on the behavior, ecology and phylogeography of baboons and Malagasy lemurs. His main research interests are the evolution of primate social systems, primate phylogeography, and primate ecology.
The strange blood: Natural hybridization in primates
Article first published online: 22 JUN 2011
Copyright © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews
Volume 20, Issue 3, pages 96–103, May/June 2011
How to Cite
Zinner, D., Arnold, M. L. and Roos, C. (2011), The strange blood: Natural hybridization in primates. Evol. Anthropol., 20: 96–103. doi: 10.1002/evan.20301
- Issue published online: 22 JUN 2011
- Article first published online: 22 JUN 2011
Hybridization between two closely related species is a natural evolutionary process that results in an admixture of previously isolated gene pools. The exchange of genes between species may accelerate adaptation and lead to the formation of new lineages. Hybridization can be regarded as one important evolutionary mechanism driving speciation processes. Although recent studies have highlighted the taxonomic breadth of natural hybridization in the primate order, information about primate hybridization is still limited compared to that about the hybridization of fish, birds, or other mammals. In primates, hybridization has occurred mainly between subspecies and species, but has also been detected between genera and even in the human lineage. Here we provide an overview of cases of natural hybridization in all major primate radiations. Our review emphasizes a phylogenetic approach. We use the data presented to discuss the impact of hybridization on taxonomy and conservation.