Earliest-known treeshrew fossil found in Yunnan, China
|Upper and lower dentition (in color) of Ptilocercus kylin, compared |
with P. lowii (in gray-scale) [Credit: NI Xijun]
The fossil species is strikingly similar to the extant pen-tailed treeshrew (Ptilocercus lowii), a species generally recognized as the most primitive extant treeshrew. It demonstrates that Ptilocercus treeshrews have undergone little evolutionary change in their morphology since the early Oligocene.
|Reconstruction of Ptilocercus kylin |
[Credit: NI Xijun]
"This discovery provides an exceptional example of slow morphological evolution in a mammalian group over a period of 34 million years, and it supports the suggestion that the extant P. lowii gives us a living glimpse of the first ancestor of the Archonta, our own superordinal group", said lead author NI Xijun of the IVPP, "The persistent and stable tropical environment in Southeast Asia through the Cenozoic likely played a critical role in the survival of such a morphologically conservative lineage".
Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences [January 26, 2016]