The Plesiadapiform Radiation And Primate Ancestry

Plesiadapiformes have grown into an assemblage of 11 families, including more than 40 genera and over a hundred species, if microsyopids are included. With the recognition of Purgatorius at the family level as

Purgatoriidae (Gunnell, 1989), there are 10 families listed in Fleagle (1999), and the recently named Toliapinidae (Hooker et al., 1999) has to be added. Surveys of the group can be found in textbooks (e.g., Fleagle, 1999; Szalay and Delson, 1979); however, they are quickly outdated due to the continual description of new genera and species [e.g., Russellodon (Sige and Marandat, 1997), Toliapina and Sarnacius (Hooker et al., 1999), Carpomegodon (Bloch et al., 2001), Acidomomys (Bloch et al., 2002)], and the sometimes rapid questioning of some of the new taxa (e.g., Sarnacius synonymized with Berruvius in Silcox, 2001). The phylogeny of plesiadapi-forms is a very active field of research. While a grouping into two major superfamilies, Plesiadapoidea and Microsyopoidea, was advocated by many authors (e.g., Fleagle, 1999; Gingerich, 1976; Gunnell 1989), new accumulated evidence shows that Paromomyidae is possibly less closely related to other plesiadapoids than had been thought (Van Valen, 1994), and a third superfamily, Paromomyoidea, recognized by Silcox (2001), which partly reflects relationships earlier defended by Szalay: a more inclusive family Paromomyidae, with Palaechthonina as part of Paromomyini (Szalay and Delson, 1979), or paromomyids closely related to palaechthonids. The family Carpolestidae received a lot of attention following the recovery of a large quantity of new material (Beard, 2000; Beard and Wang, 1995; Bloch and Gingerich, 1998; Fox, 1984, 1993; Silcox et al., 2001). Its phylogeny has been much scrutinized since Rose (1975), and the family has become a model for stratocladistics (Bloch et al., 2001). The details of plesiadapiform phylogeny are left aside (microsyopids are provisionally excluded). Here, only aspects of the evidence which relate closely to primate origins are considered.

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