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Mprimhead

INTRODUCTION & HISTORY

In both Spec and our home timestream, primates evolved at the cusp of the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary. Fragmentary evidence from Home-Earth (none has yet been found in Spec) suggests simian precursors in the latest Cretaceous, but these fossils (called Purgatorius) are only tentatively assigned to Primates. These climbers may, therefore, have evolved after the end of the Cretaceous, in which case their presence on Spec is yet another example of parallelism and the primate-like creatures of Spec should be properly called p-Primates. However, since even the exhaustively analyzed primate fossil record of Home Earth remains unclear on the matter, most researchers are content to group both Spec and our own primate species into a single clade.

The first good primate fossils on either world turn up in the Paleocene, from strata 50 million years old, and show generalized tree-climbers, creatures with stereoscopic vision, opposable digits on hands and feet, and a slew of other features useful in an arboreal life. In both Spec and our home timeline, these little climbers spread across Asia and North America, and soon began to diversify.

Spec's change in primate evolution, the switch that failed to turn on, occurred some time during the Eocene, still early in the Cenozoic. At this point in our home timeline, the first primates had split into two lineages, the adapids (which would later give rise to the lemurs and lorises) and the omomyids (the ancestors of tarsiers, monkeys, and apes). In Spec, no such split occurred; the omomyids never evolved.

We can never know exactly why only one primate line emerged from the Eocene. Perhaps the larger, monkey-like niches into which the early omomyids might have expanded were already taken by other animals. The fruit-eating pithecavians had evolved by the late Eocene, and may have prevented the evolution of the proto-monkeys. Whatever the reason, only the adapid-derived primates, the lemurs and lorises, and a few of their stranger brethren live on Spec.

p-LORISIDAE (Lorises galagos)

p-Lorisids are extremely common in Africa and southern Eurasia. These small, primitive primates are almost all nocturnal insectivores, using their keen senses of smell and hearing, along with huge, owl-like stereoscopic eyes, to hunt for beetles and other small game high in trees. In the absence of other tree-climbing insectivores, lorisids are actually more diverse in Spec than in RL.

Striped Galago (p-Galago striatus)

Stripedgalago

Africa is home to many primates, most of them small. One of the most common of these mammals is the striped galago (p-Galago striatus), which lives in the highland forests of eastern Africa. These 20 cm-long primates are crepuscular, most active at dusk and dawn, and subsist almost entirely on insects (though birds eggs and plant material may make up part of their diet). The galago's opposable thumbs, large ears, and stereoscopic vision are perfect adaptations for life in the trees.

Interestingly, Spec's striped galagos are not merely similar to the galagos of our home timeline, they are virtually identical. Technically, p-lorisids and the true lorisids of RL diverged 65 million years ago, but physiologically, they share all the key identifying features of their family, even details of tooth and skull anatomy that have no perceivable selective value. Parallelism, similarity between organisms of our two time streams is a well-documented phenomenon, recorded in many post-K-T clades, from lorises to penguins to grasses. Such organisms, not notably distinct from their Home-Earth counterparts, though they each evolved independently after the end of the Cretaceous, are denoted in by the prefix p- (for parallel) attached to their scientific names. The exact reasons behind the parallelism phenomenon, and its implications for evolution in general, are still under study.

POKEMUROIDEA (Tree foxes, pokemuses, chillas)

The most common, and the most famous, of the Specworld primates are the pokemuroid. These diverse tree-climbers, ranging from tiny, lemur-like insectivores to big raccoon-analogs, are common throughout Eurasia, with a few species in Africa (although this continent is firmly in the control of the lorisids) and one in North America.

          ,=Lorisidae=p-Galago striatus Striped galago) 
=Primates=| 
           `=POKEMUROIDEA

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