Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Primate Lineage

Two items on primates:

John Noble Wilford does a nice review of the recent primatology meeting in Chicago in the NY Times science section 4/17/07. His emphasis is on recent work with Chimps, showing them to be social creatures that appear to be capable of empathy, altruism, self-awareness, cooperation in problem solving and learning through example and experience. PDF is here.

The April 13 issue of Science Magazine has a series of articles on the sequencing of the genome of the rhesus macaque monkey. This begins to put the previously sequenced chimp and human genomes into perspective. Macaques are Old World monkeys, which split perhaps 25 million years ago from the ape lineage that led to both chimpanzees and humans. I thought I would pass on this graphic from from Pennisi's article showing the primate evolutionary line.

Researchers plan to eventually sequence the genomes of all these primates and related species, with human, macaque, and chimp now published. The animals are arranged in an artist's rendition of their family tree, with estimated divergence dates in millions of years. CREDITS: (ILLUSTRATION) N. KEVITIYAGALA/SCIENCE; (ADAPTED FROM) E. EIZIRIK ET AL., IN ANTHROPOID ORIGINS: NEW VISIONS, C. F. ROSS AND R. F. KAY (KLUWER/PLENUM, 2004), PP. 45-64.

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