Pseudoloris cuestai, a new Eocene primate from Soria (Spain)

06 Mar 2012
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Drawings of two teeth of Pseudoloris cuestai from Mazaterón. Marta Palmero. ICP

Drawing of two teeth of Pseudoloris cuestai from Mazaterón. Marta Palmero. ICP


Researchers of the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont published this week in the prestigious 'Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology' a new species of primate, Pseudoloris cuestai. The remains recovered in the Mazaterón fossil site (Almazán Basin, Soria) date from the Middle Eocene, about 40 million years ago.


The dental fossil remains of this new primate species, up to 22 teeth, are stored in the ICP collections. Pseudoloris cuestai would have been a medium-sized primate among its genus, and it is clearly distinguishable from the remains found in the Pyrenean basin such as P. isabenae from Capella (La Ribagorza, Aragón), P. parvulus from Sossís (Pallars Jussà, Catalonia) or P. pyrenaicus from Sant Jaume de Frontanyà (Berguedà, Catalonia). These differences reinforce the theory that mammalian faunas from the western basins of the Iberian Peninsula were highly endemic, as already observed in other species of perissodactyls, artiodactyls, rodents and adapiform primates such as the genus Mazateronodon, described by the same researchers in 2010. Perissodactyls and artiodactyls are two orders of placental mammals, which are characterized by odd and even number of toes in their limbs, respectively.

The different extinct species of Pseudoloris were small primates, of about 40 grams of mass, which as far as we know would have had a lifestyle similar to that of the current bushbabies: nightlife animals with a diet primarily based on insects. The proportion of insects in their diet would have been more important than in other small primates, such as adapiforms. From a morphological level, Pseudoloris would have had some features very similar to those of extant tarsiers.

The new species of Pseudoloris was named after the paleontologist Miguel Ángel Cuesta Ruiz-Colmenares, from the University of Salamanca, in recognition of his work on Eocene vertebrates in Spain. The first remains of Pseudoloris documented in the Iberian Peninsula were found by Miquel Crusafont in 1967, when he identified the remains of Pseudoloris parvulus from Sossís, and described two new species P. reguanti from Sant Cugat Gavadons and P. isabenae from Capella .

Research on the origin of primates at the ICP

The three researchers who signed this article, Raef Minwer-Barakat, Judit Marigó and Salvador Moyà, have recently published further work on omomyiform and adapiform primates, representing the oldest forms of the order primates, which were abundant and diverse in the Northern Hemisphere during the Eocene.

In June 2010, these researchers published in the ‘Journal of Human Evolution' the description of a new genus of adapiform primate Mazateronodon endemicus, out of fossil remains recovered from the site of Mazaterón in Soria (Castile and León). In October of the same year a new species of omomyid primate Pseudoloris pyrenaicus was published in the ‘American Journal of Physical Anthropology’, after the study of fossil remains recovered from Sant Jaume de Frontanyà (Berguedà, Catalonia). A few months later, in April 2011 and again in the ‘Journal of Human Evolution ', the description of the adapiform primate Anchomomys frontanyensis was published, revealling the most complete dentition of this genus ever found, also recovered from St. Jaume de Frontanyà.


Image of the Site of Mazaterón, in Soria. ICP

Image of the Site of Mazaterón, in Soria. ICP


The Mazaterón fossil site

The site of Mazaterón is situated about 40 kilometers southeast of Soria (Castile and León), in the Almazán Basin. Its fossiliferous sequence is, in fact, the oldest of the basin, about 40.5 million years old. The richest faunal remains from the entire continental Eocene of the Duero Basin have been recovered from this site: up to 27 vertebrates have been identified, including fishes, turtles, crocodiles, perissodactyls, artiodactyls, primates and rodents. Among them, there are three forms of primates found so far: Mazateronodon endemicus, remains of a larger adapiform tentatively assigned to Adapis, and the 22 remains presented in this study that have allowed the description of the new species Pseudoloris cuestai.

+ info Minwer-Barakat, R., Marigó, J. & Moyà-Solà, S. (2012). Pseudoloris cuestai, a new microchoerine (Primates, Omomyidae) from the Middle Eocene of the Iberian Peninsula. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 32(2): 407–418.


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