Paris, May 20, 2009
The genus Palaeopropithecus is a group of subfossil giant lemurs (2). Up until now, two species had been described: P. ingens (in 1898) and P. maximus (in 1903). Palaeopropithecus have very specific adaptations, notably for locomotion, as they moved from branch to branch using all four limbs, with their head downwards, in a similar way to today's South American sloths.
Recent discoveries by the MAPPM (1) on sites in northwest
The other main difference of this new species is that its teeth are smaller. Its dental characteristics could be described from the P. kelyus subfossil maxilla fragment, showing a crista obliqua, a parastyle and a highly developed mesostyle. This morphology is reminiscent of the present day Propithecus genus. While other Palaeopropithecus must have fed on leaves and fruit, the differences in the teeth of P. kelyus suggest that this animal could chew much tougher foods (notably seeds) compared with the other two known species. P. kelyus was found in an area of northwest
In the 'evolution laboratory' that © D. Gommery - MAPPM & CNRS Overall view of the Belobaka site where the P. kelyus specimen was found. © D. Gommery- MAPPM & CNRS P.kelyus maxilla fragment, removed from its matrix.
© D. Gommery - MAPPM & CNRS
Overall view of the Belobaka site where the P. kelyus specimen was found.
© D. Gommery- MAPPM & CNRS
P.kelyus maxilla fragment, removed from its matrix.
1) The project "Mission archéologique et paléontologique dans la province de Mahajanga" (MAPPM) is a Franco-Madagascan collaboration between CNRS UPR 2147 (Dynamique de l'Évolution Humaine: Individus, Populations, Espèces) and UFR Mozea Akiba of Université de Mahajanga, funded by the Sous-direction de l'archéologie et de la recherche en sciences sociales of the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, CNRS and Université de Mahajanga.
2) Subfossils are species that died out during the historic or prehistoric eras and overlapped present-day species. Unlike classic fossils, their bones are not completely mineralised.
D.Gommery et al., C.R. Palevol, vol 8 (5), July-August 2009
© 2009 Académie des sciences / Elsevier Masson (DOI : 10.1016/j.crpv.2009.02.001)
This article is presently available online in the Elsevier article database, ScienceDirect, and on the Comptes Rendus Palevol web site:
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