The Tree-Shrew, Tupaia: A “Living Model” of the Ancestral Primate?
Although the common tree-shrew, Tupaia, does not qualify as a “living fossil” in the sense that it shows a close identity with a known ancient fossil species (indeed, the tree-shrew fossil record is exceptionally poor), over the past several decades these mammals have regularly been held up as a “living model” of the “ancestral primate.” The tree-shrews have thus been regarded widely as approximating (usually in some unspecified way or ways) the ancestral primate morphotype. Perhaps surprisingly, this viewpoint is not confined to the diminishing number of systematists and others who would admit the tree-shrews to membership in the order Primates. Hence it may be useful to evaluate the claims of the tree-shrews to living fossil status of this kind.
KeywordsTree Shrew Cheek Tooth Modern Aspect Early Primate Medial Orbital Wall
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