primates

The smallest primate

The smallest living primate is the mouse lemur, found in Madagascar. An adult weighs about 31 grams (1 ounce).

drawing of primate on thumb

The smallest primate that ever lived is believed to be a species in the family Eosimiidae that lived 45 million years ago in humid rain forests in what is now China. The animal's size is estimated from fossils of ankle and foot bones discovered in 1996. One species is estimated to have weighed about 10 grams, and the other 15.

The primate was probably a tree-dweller that ate insects, fruit and nectar. It was eaten by owls–the recovered fossils may have come from bones in owl pellets.

Daniel L. Gebo, Marian Dagosto, K. Christopher Beard, Tao Qi and Jingwen Wang.
The oldest known anthropoid postcranial fossils and the early evolution of higher primates.
Nature, volume 404, number 6775, pages 276-278 (15 March 2000).

Daniel L. Gebo, Marian Dagosto, K. Christopher Beard, Tao Qi.
The Smallest Primates.
Journal of Human Evolution, volume 38, number 4, pages 585-594 (April 2000).

The biggest primate

mountain gorilla mom and baby

Mountain gorilla mother and 3-day-old baby, Virguna Mts., Rwanda

©iStockphoto.com/Erwin Friesenbichier

 The biggest primate is the gorilla (Gorilla gorilla). Adult males weigh roughly 135 to 275 kilograms (300-600 pounds). (Some fatties in zoos have hit 300 kg.) Standing erect, which they rarely do, gorillas can have a height of as much as 1.75 meters (5 feet 9 inches). The span of their outstretched arms is 2 to 2.75 m (6.5-9 feet). If gorillas measured in fathoms, their fathoms would be longer than ours.

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