Adaptive and phylogenetic significance of ontogenetic sequences in Archaeolemur, subfossil lemur from Madagascar.
Among the best known of recently extinct Malagasy lemurs is Archaeolemur, which is represented by many hundreds of specimens. The phylogenetic affinities of this taxon are unclear, especially in light of recent preliminary analysis of ancient DNA which does not support its previously accepted close relationship with the living Indridae. We examined the nearly complete skeletons of two adults and one juvenile and other less complete specimens to reconstruct aspects of the ontogeny of Archaeolemur. To compare the development of Archaeolemur to that of living strepsirrhines we collected data on Propithecus verreauxi, Eulemur fulvus, and Lemur catta. Additionally, because Archaeolemur exhibits some morphological convergences with distantly related papionins, we tested for convergence in the developmental patterns of Archaeolemur and Macaca fascicularis. Data include the status of tooth eruption, craniofacial sutural closure, and postcranial epiphyseal fusion, as well as linear measurements. We used discriminant function analysis and other tools to explore ontogenetic similarities and differences. The adaptive and phylogenetic significance of ontogenetic information is discussed. Our analysis shows that Archaeolemur displays a clear strepsirrhine pattern of development with only minor macaque convergences. Among the Strepsirrhini, Archaeolemur is slightly more similar developmentally to E. fulvus and L. catta than to P. verreauxi. Some of the distinctive features of the ontogeny of Archaeolemur may be related to diet, while others bear apparent testimony to a relatively rapid absolute pace of growth and development.
King, SJ; Godfrey, LR; Simons, EL
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