Phenacolemur praecox


Phenacolemur praecox had a body mass around 414 grams (Fleagle, 1999). This species had a dental formula of 1:0:1:3 on the lower jaw (Conroy, 1990). This species shows great reduction in the antemolar teeth (Conroy, 1990). Phenacolemur species, like other plesiadapiforms, have enlarged and protruding lower incisors (Conroy, 1990). The Nannopithex-fold (postprotocingulum) occurs on the upper molars of this species, which is one of three crests that descends from protocone (Martin, 1990). The face is long and narrow of the species and possessed a large infraorbital foramen (Fleagle, 1999). Fleagle (1999) suggests that features suggest a richly innervated snout with tactile vibrissae. This species lacked bony tubes in the auditory bulla (Martin, 1990). This species had relatively long, straight intermediate phalanges, similar to flying lemurs (Order: Dermoptera) (Fleagle, 1999).

Phenacolemur praecox was found in North America between the late Paleocene to middle Eocene epochs (Fleagle, 1999; Conroy, 1990).

Based on the enlarged fourth premolar, Szalay (1968; cited in Conroy, 1990) suggests this species had a diet predominately of seeds and nuts. Gingerich (1974; cited in Conroy, 1990), however, suggests that this species may have a diet similar to the marsupial Petaurus, which feeds on insects, larvae, small birds, buds, flowers, nectar, and sap.

Based on the morphology of the phalanges, wrist, femur, and pelvis, Beard (1993) suggests that Phenacolemur was a glider. Runstead and Ruff (1995) suggest it was not a glider because the limbs are far more robust than extant gliding mammals.

Beard, K. C. 1993. Origin and evolution of gliding in early Cenozoic Dermoptera (Mammalia, Primatomorpha). in Primates and Their Relatives in Phylogenetic Perspective. ed. R. D. E. MacPhee. Plenum Press: New York.

Conroy, G.C. 1990. Primate Evolution. W.W. Norton and Co.: New York.

Fleagle, J.G. 1999. Primate Adaptation and Evolution. Academic Press: San Diego.

Gingerich, P. 1974. Function of pointed premolars in Phenacolemur and other mammals. J. Dent. Res. Vol. 53, 497.

Martin, R.D. 1990. Primate Origins and Evolution: A Phylogenetic Reconstruction. Princeton University Press: Princeton, New Jersey.

Runstead, J. A. and Ruff, C. B. 1995. Structural adaptations for gliding in mammals with implications for locomotor behavior in paromomyids. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Vol. 98, 101-119.

Szalay, F. 1968. The beginnings of primates. Evolution. Vol. 22, 19-36.

Last updated: July 15, 2005

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