The Evolution Of Primate Locomotion And Body Configuration

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Body size has a leading control on locomotor performance and the morphology of the locomotor apparatus. In locomotion under the influence of gravity, body mass acts as weight force and is a mechanical variable. Accordingly, the application of biomechanical principles and methods allows a functional understanding of scaling effects in locomotion.


The rock in which it was found was known to belong to the geological epoch we call the Oligocene (now estimated to have lasted from 34 to 23 million years ago). Although only the size of a quarter, the fossil displayed two defining characteristics of the Anthropoidea, or higher primates--the large evolutionary group that includes monkeys, apes, and humans. I could tell that the right and left frontal (forehead) bones in this small animal were fused along the midline suture into a single bone, as is the case in all the higher primates. And on the right side, just enough of the rim of the eye socket was preserved for me to establish that it was fully enclosed in the back by bony plates (the eyeballs of more primitive primates are normally encircled by just a thin bar of bone). Neither feature had been previously documented in so old a fossil.
Better late than never, the small piece of bone joined a short list of other fossils discovered in the Fayum between 1906 and 1910 that also appeared to belong to higher primates. The best of the other fossils--both nearly complete mandibles--belonged to two small species named Parapithecus fraasi and Propliopithecus haeckeli. ...
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