Certain fossils have shown that Asian primates lived high stress lives in the prehistoric past. They had a tough time just staying alive in a challenging environment.
A study published today in the journal Science, provides conclusive proof of fossils that belie the fact that Asian primates had a rough time in the past.
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The sample consists of six fossil species and all of these were unearthed in China. These primates survived in the Eocine-Oligocene Transition. That was about 34 million years ago.
The extreme cold during that period in prehistory made life for primates a difficult proposal. Thus their numbers dwindled and very few fossils were left behind as their remains disintegrated.
This was due to the earth’s tectonic plates which underwent rearrangement. The cold and frigid weather was due to this shifting of tectonic plates. Both temperature and humidity went down dramatically.
Since most primates thrive in hot and wet conditions, they were left high and dry. This led to a situation where they literally died out in North America and Europe. However, the paradox is that they survived in Africa and Southern Asia.
The ancestors of modern-day apes, monkeys and humans appeared for the first time in Asia. Thus it is these Asian primates that we must look to if we are to solve the riddle of primatology.
Primate evolution has remained a mystery of (pre)history. While primates did begin their journey on earth in Asia, they later on spread to Africa. There, they diversified even further.
At some stage, the focal point of these primates shifted from Asia to Africa. We didn’t know the why and wherefore of this until now. For one thing, the climate change simply wiped out the Asian primates. Thus their only chances of survival was in Africa.
The study is the product of 10 years of solid research. It took place in Southern China where the fossils of six species of primates were analyzed in depth.
The jaws and teeth of these primates were perused with great interest. These served as identifying fragments of the primate species. Most of the Chinese monkeys were tropical tree-dwellers.
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While the reason behind their stress levels was the extreme cooling, today we face the opposite situation and that is global warming. How humanity extricates itself from this conundrum remains to be seen.