190521 Museum 015 (permalink)
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Rob Skolnick works to remove rock from around a lemur fossil in Morrill Hall's Visual Lab on the museum's fourth floor. Name: "Kirby" Scientific ID: Smilodectes gracilis (family Notharctidae) Found in the Bridger Basin of SW Wyoming Age: ~50 million years old Kirby lived during a time when temperatures were the warmest of the last 70 million years at mid-latitudes around the globe, including Wyoming and Nebraska. Conditions were tropical and palm trees grew around Lake Gosiute, a giant lake in SW Wyoming. The shoreline of the lake advanced and retreated and Kirby probably lived within a few miles of the lake. This was a great time for primates in North America with at least one other species of large notharctid primate living along side Smilodectes. There was also a rich diversity of very small primates living at this time called omomyoids, with at least 11 genera living at the same time as Kirby in Wyoming. These tiny primates were the size of chipmunks. Smilodectes was similar to extant lemurs that live in Madagascar today, and possibly closely related to them. The tiny omomyoids are most closely related to anthropoids (monkey and apes) and our distant ancestors probably were in this group. May 21, 2019. Photo by Craig Chandler / University Communication.
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