Extinct ‘Monkey Lemur’ Shows Similarities to Fossil Humans
Published:28 Dec.2022    Source:University of Otago
Lead author Dr Ian Towle, of the Sir John Walsh Research Institute in the Faculty of Dentistry, says the surprisingly large monkey lemur, Archaeolemur, had novel anatomical features not seen in living lemurs, such as lacking a tooth comb in the front of the mouth for grooming. These extinct lemurs are so different to those alive today. They also show fascinating similarities to monkeys and apes, including humans, he says.

These remarkable extinct lemurs are with dentitions resembling baboons in shape; but presenting tooth chipping patterns similar to fossil hominins such as Neanderthals. Similar tooth fracture patterns are observed in fossil hominins, such as Neanderthals. Typically, in Neanderthals these fracture patterns are thought to be related to tool-use behaviours, Dr Towle says. The results fit with previous research on Archaeolemur, in particular evidence that their large and robust front teeth may have been used to process a diet containing hard and tough foods. Dr Towle thinks the study raises the fascinating possibility that stone tools do not necessarily explain the high rate of fractures on Neanderthal teeth.