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Afrotarsius is a primate found in the Paleogene of Africa.

Temporal range: Eocene to Oligocene
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Suborder: Haplorhini
Infraorder: Tarsiiformes
Family: Afrotarsiidae
Genus: Afrotarsius
Simons & Bown, 1985
Type species
Afrotarsius chatrathi
Simons & Bown, 1985
  • Afrotarsius chatrathi Simons & Bown, 1985
  • Afrotarsius libycus Jaeger et al., 2010
Two molars, one of Afrotarsius (left) and one of Afrasia (right), are compared, with an Eocene map of the globe showing where each came from. In the lower left, a life reconstruction of Afrotarsius is shown.
Afrasia from Asia and Afrotarsius from Africa exhibit similar morphology of their teeth and lived in the late middle Eocene, suggesting stem simians dispersed from Asia to Africa around that time.

The first species to be named, Afrotarsius chatrathi, was named in 1985 on the basis of a single lower jaw from the Oligocene of Fayum, Egypt, and tentatively referred to the tarsier family (Tarsiidae).[1] However, this relationship immediately proved controversial, and in 1987 the animal was placed in a separate family Afrotarsiidae related to simians.[2] A tarsier-like tibiofibula was allocated to Afrotarsius in 1998,[3] but the identity of this bone is controversial.[4] In 2010, a second species of the genus, Afrotarsius libycus, was named from the Eocene of Dur At-Talah, Libya, on the basis of isolated upper and lower teeth. Features of these teeth were interpreted as additional evidence for a relationship between Afrotarsius and anthropoids.[5] A second afrotarsiid genus, Afrasia, was named in 2012 from the Eocene Pondaung Formation of Myanmar. In the same paper, Afrotarsiidae was placed together with the Asian Eosimiidae in an infraorder Eosimiiformes, closely related to crown-group simians.[6] However, some studies indicate that it should be placed in Tarsiiformes.

Evolutionary historyEdit

Phylogeny of Paleogene simians[7]

Strepsirrhini (†adapiforms, lemurs, & lorisoids)


Omomyidae + Tarsiidae (tarsiers)






Afrasia djijidae

Afrotarsius libycus




Platyrrhini (New World monkeys)



According to Chaimanee et al. 2012, the close relationship between Afrasia djijidae from Southeast Asia and Afrotarsius libycus from North Africa demonstrates one of at least two dispersals of stem simians from Asia to Africa during the middle Eocene.


Literature citedEdit

  • Chaimanee, Y.; Chavasseau, O.; Beard, K. C.; Kyaw, A. A.; Soe, A. N.; Sein, C.; Lazzari, V.; Marivaux, L.; Marandat, B.; Swe, M.; Rugbumrung, M.; Lwin, T.; Valentin, X.; Zin-Maung-Maung-Thein; Jaeger, J. -J. (2012). "Late Middle Eocene primate from Myanmar and the initial anthropoid colonization of Africa" (PDF). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 109 (26): 10293. doi:10.1073/pnas.1200644109. PMC 3387043. PMID 22665790.
  • Ginsburg, L.; Mein, P. (1987). "Tarsius thailandica nov. sp., premier Tarsiidae (Primates, Mammalia) fossile d'Asie". Comptes Rendus de l'Académie des Sciences. 304 (19): 1213–1215.
  • Godinot, M. (2010). "Chapter 19: Paleogene Prosimians". In Werdelin, L.; Sanders, W.J (eds.). Cenozoic Mammals of Africa. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-25721-4.
  • Jaeger, J. J.; Beard, K. C.; Chaimanee, Y.; Salem, M.; Benammi, M.; Hlal, O.; Coster, P.; Bilal, A. A.; Duringer, P.; Schuster, M.; Valentin, X.; Marandat, B.; Marivaux, L.; Métais, E.; Hammuda, O.; Brunet, M. (2010). "Late middle Eocene epoch of Libya yields earliest known radiation of African anthropoids" (PDF). Nature. 467 (7319): 1095–1098. doi:10.1038/nature09425. PMID 20981098. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-03-08.
  • Rasmussen, D.T.; Conroy, G.C.; Simons, E.L. (1998). "Tarsier-like locomotor specializations in the Oligocene primate Afrotarsius". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 95: 14848–14850. doi:10.1073/pnas.95.25.14848. PMC 24538.
  • Simons, E. L.; Bown, T. M. (1985). "Afrotarsius chatrathi, first tarsiiform primate (? Tarsiidae) from Africa". Nature. 313 (6002): 475–477. doi:10.1038/313475a0.