Skip to comments.New theory on the origin of primates
Posted on 01/19/2010 11:33:29 AM PST by decimon
A new model for primate origins is presented in Zoologica Scripta, published by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The paper argues that the distributions of the major primate groups are correlated with Mesozoic tectonic features and that their respective ranges are congruent with each evolving locally from a widespread ancestor on the supercontinent of Pangea about 185 million years ago.
Michael Heads, a Research Associate of the Buffalo Museum of Science, arrived at these conclusions by incorporating, for the first time, spatial patterns of primate diversity and distribution as historical evidence for primate evolution. Models had previously been limited to interpretations of the fossil record and molecular clocks.
"According to prevailing theories, primates are supposed to have originated in a geographically small area (center of origin) from where they dispersed to other regions and continents" said Heads, who also noted that widespread misrepresentation of fossil molecular clocks estimates as maximum or actual dates of origin has led to a popular theory that primates somehow crossed the globe and even rafted across oceans to reach America and Madagascar.
In this new approach to molecular phylogenetics, vicariance, and plate tectonics, Heads shows that the distribution ranges of primates and their nearest relatives, the tree shrews and the flying lemurs, conforms to a pattern that would be expected from their having evolved from a widespread ancestor. This ancestor could have evolved into the extinct Plesiadapiformes in north America and Eurasia, the primates in central-South America, Africa, India and south East Asia, and the tree shrews and flying lemurs in South East Asia.
Divergence between strepsirrhines (lemurs and lorises) and haplorhines (tarsiers and anthropoids) is correlated with intense volcanic activity on the Lebombo Monocline in Africa about 180 million years ago. The lemurs of Madagascar diverged from their African relatives with the opening of the Mozambique Channel (160 million years ago), while New and Old World monkeys diverged with the opening of the Atlantic about 120 million years ago.
"This model avoids the confusion created by the center of origin theories and the assumption of a recent origin for major primate groups due to a misrepresentation of the fossil record and molecular clock divergence estimates" said Michael from his New Zealand office. "These models have resulted in all sorts of contradictory centers of origin and imaginary migrations for primates that are biogeographically unnecessary and incompatible with ecological evidence".
The tectonic model also addresses the otherwise insoluble problem of dispersal theories that enable primates to cross the Atlantic to America, and the Mozambique Channel to Madagascar although they have not been able to cross 25 km from Sulawesi to Moluccan islands and from there travel to New Guinea and Australia.
Heads acknowledged that the phylogenetic relationships of some groups such as tarsiers, are controversial, but the various alternatives do not obscure the patterns of diversity and distribution identified in this study.
Biogeographic evidence for the Jurassic origin for primates, and the pre-Cretaceous origin of major primate groups considerably extends their divergence before the fossil record, but Heads notes that fossils only provide minimal dates for the existence of particular groups, and there are many examples of the fossil record being extended for tens of millions of years through new fossil discoveries.
The article notes that increasing numbers of primatologists and paleontologists recognize that the fossil record cannot be used to impose strict limits on primate origins, and that some molecular clock estimates also predict divergence dates pre-dating the earliest fossils. These considerations indicate that there is no necessary objection to the biogeographic evidence for divergence of primates beginning in the Jurassic with the origin of all major groups being correlated with plate tectonics.
The Buffalo Museum of Science is the non-profit educational institution dedicated to the study and interpretation of the natural and physical sciences. Its extensive collections of over 700,000 specimens and artifacts represent all facets of the natural world with an emphasis on Western New York as well as man-made objects spanning the globe. Based at 1020 Humboldt Parkway and anchoring Buffalo's East Side in Olmsted-designed Martin Luther King, Jr. Park since 1929, the Museum presents a wide variety of programs and services for children, teachers, families, adults, and community organizations throughout each year. The Museum also operates Tifft Nature Preserve in South Buffalo, a 264-acre urban wetland preserve on reclaimed former industrial land and seasonally sponsors archaeological exploration at the Hiscock Site in nearby Genesee County, NY, one of North America's richest Ice Age sites.
For further information on the Museum and its upcoming activities, call 716-896-5200 or visit www.sciencebuff.org.
Heads up ping.
The sub-primates were foreclosed on.
i don’t give a flying lemur
They descended from an ancient race of liberal Democrats?
They could have swam there because of a liberal illegal immigrant policy by Mozambique.
No need to be shrewish about it.
As fun as it is to see the university crowd put so much mental energy into their scientific endeavor to disprove the Bible, it’s so much more wonderful as they one by one discover the futility of their efforts.
Just think, common sense, if a book has been analyzed by millions of educated people over thousands of years, only a young person could very long harbor the dream of coming up with an analysis of the book that was truly novel, let alone disprove it entirely. But I’m sure most first year geometry students that are very excited about their studies sometime dream of coming up with their own Pythagorean theorem.
That's your presumption.
Wait a minutes, the Bible details the origin of primates?
>> Wait a minutes, the Bible details the origin of primates? <<
The Bible “Literalists” want us to make the “assumption”(which they accuse most scientists of making assumptions based of a line of fossil evidence) that they are somehow related to Cain or married Cain after he was kicked out of the family for killing Abel or some such thing.
So yeah, Cain apparently WAS a monkey’s uncle....
Thanks decimon.The sub-primates were foreclosed on.I knew I liked you for a reason. ;')
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The Bible contains both literal and figurative passages.
The professing Christian should be careful to not add or take away from the Bible, lest we make up our own religion, which, of course, would be completely pointless.
Engineers and scientists, despite what they have been habituated to say, could never design anything by the process of evolution; it is mathematically impossible. Many have always maintained that, more and more are admitting it.
I have written software for 20 years, so I’m a technologically backward person who “clings” to the Bible out of fear of technology. I cling to it for a much different reason.
To anyone reasonably skillful at writing computer programs, it is obvious that it would be impossible to make random changes to programs until an improvement is found. Each program change is designed after analysis of the prior version, so “incremental change” properly describes design changes over time, not “evolution” that advertising likes to refer to. Technical designs do not “evolve”.
The number of possible combinations of characters in only a 10-character program is in the billions, yet very few of those 10-character combinations would be a program that would compile, let alone do something that made sense. For a 1,000 line program, the total possible character combinations is off-the-charts large. And yet, a 1,000 line computer program is preposterously simple in comparison to a “natural machine”, for example, a tree or a worm. They are machines that show an enormous amount of order. Engineers and scientists all wholeheartedly agree that in the natural universe order does not spring from disorder. Except when “evolution” is discussed. Then, people tend to say, well, it happens over a long period of time, and sort of yada yada, then they dismiss disbelief in evolution as crazy.
And yet we've observed microevolution doing just that.
Computer programmers have much catching up to do with respect to the power of nature.
Hmmm... I’d like to think this through.
How many generations of mammals has there been in total since the first mammal ?
All evolution necessary to go from that first mammal to us humans today would have to occur in that many generations.
I don't have any idea. It would be tough to know since the arrival of mammals is estimated within a block of several million years, so whatever hypothesis you came up with could be off by that factor.
Remember, the theory of evolution explains the fact of evolution, just like the theory of gravity and general relativity explain the fact of gravity.
We know evolution is fact, we're just trying to come up with the best theoretical mechanism for how it works, just like we look at gravity and know its fact, and we accept Einstein's theory as the best explanation.
Well, as to number of generations, I’m really trying to figure this out for real, not just say something’s true and forget about it.
Human and primate reproduction would require us to take the number of years and divide by 10 or 15. For small mammals, perhaps one generation per year.
I’ve looked at the “evolution time line” that is generally accepted and there is no possible way that enough evolution could have occurred. I actually researched a bit, and found that the actual evolution “scientists” are also unable to support their own theory, very much to my surprise. They simply refer to the “Cambrian explosion” as a possible time period of extremely fast evolution, and beyond that they simply say that evolution must be true, so therefore it is.
As far as the theory of gravity, the force of gravitation local to our environment on earth is observable when one drops an object, so the existence of gravity is without doubt; objects can’t hover without energy. The theories regarding gravitation have to do with mathematically defining the force to reflect a complete understanding of it, and so far there is no theory that satisfactorily describes gravity, general relativity and quantum mechanics in a unified way. Newton’s law of universal gravitation, however, which describes the simple observable gravity above, is called a law because it can be proved through observation.
Your last paragraph, “We know evolution to be fact”... etc., demonstrates the logical fallacy of “begging the question”, the most basic fallacy that all scientific endeavor must overcome in order to rise above conjecture in a bar.
I know, I was not mocking you. It would be impossible to estimate, since the arrival of the first mammals happened somewhere between 190 and 140 millions years ago.
That gives you a 50 millions year spread, so it would reasonably throw your calculations off in the millions, even if you divided by 15 for humans, which wouldn't be accurate either since they didn't even show up until tens of millions of years after that.
I don't think its something that's knowable.
Ive looked at the evolution time line that is generally accepted and there is no possible way that enough evolution could have occurred.
I don't understand how you could possibly calculate this. What defines "enough evolution"? You couldn't even get evolutionary biologists to postulate something like that. In some cases they're still fighting over the concept of punctuated equilibrium.
Evolution occurred. We can see it in the fossil record and in transitional fossils. To paraphrase Haldane, we haven't found rabbits in the Precambrian yet.
Newton didn't know the nature of gravity, and it took theories to postulate its nature.
As Einstein proved, it wasn't really a force at all, but a warping of spacetime. Maybe someone will come along and be able to usurp the current theory of evolution and explain how life evolved, but it doesn't change the fact that evolution occurs, even right before our eyes with fruit flies and bacteria, and with the fossil record in specimens like the platypus jaw to archaeopteryx.
Whether its a slow process, punctuated equilibrium, or a combination of both is for future scientists to discover.
If you come up with a better theory, the world will beat a path to your door, not to mention fame and fortune.
Fruit flies are fruit flies, and they’ve had plenty of generations to evolve.
enough evolution was meaning to say enough generations for visible evolution to happen.
certainly 10 generations can’t evolve a new bodily organ.
my point is that if there have only been say 100,000,000 generations of mammals, that is nowhere near enough generations to deviate from a simple mammal to a chimp or a human.
There you go again, claiming to have calculated how many ‘generations’ a species need to evolve to another. How did you calculate this?
This is a useless postulation since you didn’t even take into account the size of the population. Obviously a species with a population of millions has more potential to evolve than a species with a population of a few dozen.
I haven’t calculated.
I’m simply saying, what’s the least possible number of generations necessary to see a new feature.
If we think this is hundreds of thousands of generations, say 100 to 200 thousand, but mammals have only been around for 1,000 generations, then there has not been enough time.
It's evolution; things are in constant flux.
You're not going to be able to see a "new feature", since whatever you're looking at has been making slow incremental changes over millions of years.
Biology doesn't work like an assembly line.
But at some point there as to be a “new feature”, or there is no evolution, the species are unchanging.
Even Intelligent Design proponents recognize common descent.
Bush did it?
I guess every animal comes from it’s parents.
It's done all the time. Genetic Algorithms and Evolutionary Programming have been around for decades now, and are even used by major coporations to solve real world problems. See, for instance:
This article gives numerous examples. Just a few:
As cited in Begley and Beals 1995, Texas Instruments used a genetic algorithm to optimize the layout of components on a computer chip, placing structures so as to minimize the overall area and create the smallest chip possible. Using a connection strategy that no human had thought of, the GA came up with a design that took 18% less space.
Beasley, Sonander and Havelock 2001 used a GA to schedule airport landings at London Heathrow, the United Kingdom's busiest airport. This is a multiobjective problem that involves, among other things, minimizing delays and maximizing number of flights while maintaining adequate separation distances between planes (air vortices that form in a plane's wake can be dangerous to another flying too closely behind). When compared to actual schedules from a busy period at the airport, the GA was able to reduce average wait time by 2-5%, equating to one to three extra flights taking off and landing per hour - a significant improvement. However, even greater improvements have been achieved: as reported in Wired 2002, major international airports and airlines such as Heathrow, Toronto, Sydney, Las Vegas, San Francisco, America West Airlines, AeroMexico, and Delta Airlines are using genetic algorithms to schedule takeoffs, landings, maintenance and other tasks, in the form of Ascent Technology's SmartAirport Operations Center software (see http://www.ascent.com/faq.html). Breeding and mutating solutions in the form of schedules that incorporate thousands of variables, "Ascent beats humans hands-down, raising productivity by up to 30 percent at every airport where it's been implemented."
As reported in Lemley 2001, United Distillers and Vintners, a Scottish company that is the largest and most profitable spirits distributor in the world and accounts for over one-third of global grain whiskey production, uses a genetic algorithm to manage its inventory and supply. This is a daunting task, requiring the efficient storage and distribution of over 7 million barrels containing 60 distinct recipes among a vast system of warehouses and distilleries, depending on a multitude of factors such as age, malt number, wood type and market conditions. Previously, coordinating this complex flow of supply and demand required five full-time employees. Today, a few keystrokes on a computer instruct a genetic algorithm to generate a new schedule each week, and warehouse efficiency has nearly doubled.
This technique [using genetic algorithms to find optimal routing paths in telecommunications networks] has found real-world applications for similar purposes, as reported in Begley and Beals 1995. The telecommunications company U.S. West (now merged with Qwest) was faced with the task of laying a network of fiber-optic cable. Until recently, the problem of designing the network to minimize the total length of cable laid was solved by an experienced engineer; now the company uses a genetic algorithm to perform the task automatically. The results: "Design time for new networks has fallen from two months to two days and saves US West $1 million to $10 million each" (p.70).
Genetic algorithms not only sometimes hit upon solutions no human designer ever thought of (since they have no biases about what is good or bad design, or what is likely or unlikely to work) but, in at least one instance described in this article, produced an effective and superior result, that humans could not even explain in retrospect!:
A field-programmable gate array, or FPGA for short, is a special type of circuit board with an array of logic cells, each of which can act as any type of logic gate, connected by flexible interlinks which can connect cells. Both of these functions are controlled by software, so merely by loading a special program into the board, it can be altered on the fly to perform the functions of any one of a vast variety of hardware devices.
Dr. Adrian Thompson has exploited this device, in conjunction with the principles of evolution, to produce a prototype voice-recognition circuit that can distinguish between and respond to spoken commands using only 37 logic gates - a task that would have been considered impossible for any human engineer. He generated random bit strings of 0s and 1s and used them as configurations for the FPGA, selecting the fittest individuals from each generation, reproducing and randomly mutating them, swapping sections of their code and passing them on to another round of selection. His goal was to evolve a device that could at first discriminate between tones of different frequencies (1 and 10 kilohertz), then distinguish between the spoken words "go" and "stop".
This aim was achieved within 3000 generations, but the success was even greater than had been anticipated. The evolved system uses far fewer cells than anything a human engineer could have designed, and it does not even need the most critical component of human-built systems - a clock. How does it work? Thompson has no idea, though he has traced the input signal through a complex arrangement of feedback loops within the evolved circuit. In fact, out of the 37 logic gates the final product uses, five of them are not even connected to the rest of the circuit in any way - yet if their power supply is removed, the circuit stops working. It seems that evolution has exploited some subtle electromagnetic effect of these cells to come up with its solution, yet the exact workings of the complex and intricate evolved structure remain a mystery (Davidson 1997).