Get access

The strange blood: Natural hybridization in primates

Authors

  • Dietmar Zinner,

    Search for more papers by this author
    • 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.

  • Michael L. Arnold,

    Search for more papers by this author
    • Michael L. Arnold is a Professor at the University of Georgia. Arnold's group has tested evolutionary hypotheses in fungi, plants, and animals. In spite of the taxonomic diversity, there is a unifying theme. Specifically, his group has examined a range of phenomena associated with the process of gene exchange between organisms in nature.

  • Christian Roos

    Search for more papers by this author
    • Christian Roos is a senior scientist at the German Primate Center and lecturer at the University of Göttingen. He is head of the Gene Bank of Primates and Deputy Regional Coordinator of the Southeast Asian section of the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group. His main research interests are the evolution and biogeography of primates.


Abstract

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.

Get access to the full text of this article

Ancillary