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Strange looking primates known as aye-ayes and the prehistoric ancestors of lemurs and both made their way across the sea from Africa to Madagascar, scientists have found rewriting the history of their migration.
It had been thought ancestors of both of these unique animals, found nowhere else on Earth, arrived on the island some 60 million years ago and then their lineage split.
Re-examination - African - Fossils - Century - Kenya
A re-examination of African fossils found half a century ago in Kenya has altered our understanding of when and how lemurs got to the island.
The new study suggests ancestors to the aye-ayes and lemurs arrived on Madagascar much later, in separate waves and as late as 23 million years ago.
Scientists - Creatures - Journey - Ocean - Africa
Scientists still can't agree on exactly how the creatures made the journey across the perilous ocean between Africa and the island.
The findings are based on the roughly 20-million-year-old fossil Propotto leakeyi, long classified as a fruit bat.
Researchers - University - Southern - California - Fossil
Researchers from the University of Southern California now believe the fossil of the strange creature wasn't a bat, but an ancient relative of the aye-aye.
The bucktoothed nocturnal primate, dubbed the aye-aye, represents one of the earliest branches of the lemur family tree.
View - Today - Lemur - Species - Ancestors
It challenges the long-held view today's 100-some lemur species descended from ancestors that made their way to Madagascar in a single wave becoming some of the first mammals to colonise the island.
Instead the two lineages of lemurs split in Africa roughly 40 million years ago with one eventually leading to the aye-aye and the other to all other lemurs.
Ancestors - Madagascar - Millions - Years
These ancestors then colonised Madagascar independently, and millions of years later than once believed.
It sheds new light about the early evolution of lemurs, distant primate cousins of humans.
Professor - Erik - Seiffert - University - Implication
Professor of anatomy Erik Seiffert at the university said: 'One implication is that lemurs have had a much less extensive evolutionary history on Madagascar than was previously...
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