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1st North American primate came from Siberia

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Washington - (Reuters) - Based on a group of teeth from a teeny primate unearthed in Mississippi dating to 55.8 million years ago, paleontologist Christopher Beard of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh said the species likely scampered over a now-vanished land bridge connecting Siberia to Alaska.

The tiny immigrant was called Teilhardina magnoliana, Beard said in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "For his time, he would have been about the smartest animal around."

"It's a small, primitive primate. In some ways, it would have looked more like a teeny, tiny monkey than it would have looked like a small lemur," Beard said, noting that it lived more than 10 million years before the first primitive monkeys.

The fossil teeth were dug up near Meridian, Mississippi, close to the former coastline of the Gulf of Mexico. They are older than any primate fossils from Europe, he said, suggesting that rather than migrating from Europe to North America, this primate might have ventured the other way around.


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