Evolution to Extinction of Non-Human Primates
During the Eocene epoch, 47,000,000 years ago, one of our ancestors lived in what is now Germany. She was still young, her baby teeth still intact and probably less than a year old. This little girl came to a lake’s edge for a drink of water; cupping the water with her hand she slowly drank the water while holding onto a branch with her other hand. Our ancestor died there when she was overcome by an underground gas bubble that erupted, the fumes leaving her unconscious; she fell into the water and drowned. Her body slowly drifted to the bottom of the lake with a myriad of other creatures. The lake where she was buried eventually filled with ...view middle of the document...
Two other important ancestors that have made news are Lucy, who lived 3.2 million years ago, and was found in 1974. She was the first Australopithecus afarensis skeleton ever found and a critical link to the human evolution; as she was from the hominin group that walked upright. She is considered a principle candidate as one of our ancestors. Another find, even older than Lucy, was a 4.4 million year old female Ardipithecus ramidus, nicknamed Ardi who was found in 1994 (Fossil discovery confirms “Lucy” walked upright). Ida, Lucy and Ardi are all significant links in understanding evolution.
Through this type of fossil discovery, scientists have learned much about our ancestors. They feel privileged to study them and become attached to the non-human primates they find; they even give them names. Research studies of living non-human primates have provided a glimpse into their habitats and offers clues to the nature of this species and how it leads to humans. At the same time humans over consumption and abuse by the very primates related to Ida, Lucy and Ardi are forcing non-human primates into extinction today. Because of human interaction we are destroying our ancestors.
Plants and animals on Earth have experienced evolution and extinction since the beginning of time. It is a natural event. In order to adapt, a species needs to be able to survive predators, find food, have a living space, live in the right climate and be able to reproduce. These are all natural processes that influence a species existence. There is another more serious factor that is not a natural occurrence, but is causing a more rapid increase in species extinction. That factor is man.
One species that is experiencing rapid declines and possible extinction right now are our close relatives the non-human primates. There are 634 species of primates in the world and forty-eight percent are being threatened with possible extinction. Mountain gorillas, Sumatran orangutans, black-faced lion tamarins and the Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys are a just of few of the twenty five most endangered primates that are facing possible extinction due to human actions according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), (Primates in Peril). Primates that may already have been lost are Miss Waldron’s red colobus monkey from Ghana. Two species only have a few dozen left: the golden-headed langur and the Hainan gibbon from China. Since 1937 the Sri Lankan Horton Plains loris has only been seen four times (“Primates: Extinction Threat Growing for Mankind’s Closest Living Relatives”).
Over fifty-five million years ago primates first appeared on Earth after the extinction of dinosaurs during the Paleocene/Eocene era. Fossils with similar anatomical traits that belong to the present primate groups have been found in Africa, Europe, Asia and North America. There is fossil evidence of flying lemurs and tree shrews that are considered the first mammals that were primate-like. They...