Washington, Oct 15 : The discovery of a new fossil in the US has suggested that more than 40 million years ago, primates preferred Texas to northern climates that were significantly cooling.
Discovered by Chris Kirk from The University of Texas at Austin and Blythe Williams from Duke University, the primate is known by the scientific name of Diablomomys dalquesti.
It is a new genus and species of primate that dates to 44 - 43 million years ago when tropical forests and active volcanoes covered west Texas.
During the early part of the Eocene epoch, primates were common in the tropical forests that covered most of North America. Over time, however, climatic cooling caused a dramatic decline in the abundance and diversity of North American primates.
By the end of the Eocene, primates and most tropical species had almost disappeared from North America.
Kirk's discovery of late middle Eocene (Uintan) primates at the Devil's Graveyard Formation in Southwest Texas reveals new information about how North American primates evolved during this period of faunal (animal) reorganization.
"After several years of collecting new fossils, reviewing Texas' primate community and comparing it to other places in North America, we found a much more diverse group of primate species in Texas than we expected," Kirk said.
"It seems that primates stuck around in Texas much longer than many other parts of the continent because the climate stayed warm for a longer period of time," he added
"While primate diversity was falling off precipitously in places like Utah and Wyoming during the late middle Eocene, west Texas provided a humid, tropical refuge for primates and other arboreal (tree-inhabiting) animals," he further added.