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Godinotia

Many closely related primate species are found as fossils in Europe. This particular one comes from the Messel Shales of Germany.

Fast Facts Edit

Type: Primate
Diet: Omnivore
Size: 30 cm
Protection status: Extinct
Pronunciation: god-in-OH-sha
Latin name: Godinotia neglecta
Meaning: named after the primate researcher Marc Godinot
Animal Type: Mammal - primate
Dietary Type: Omnivorous - Insects and fruit
Closest Living Relative: Living primates
Size: Body 30cm, with a long tail

There were several lemur-like primates found in the forests around at the time. Some had such large eye sockets that they were probably nocturnal. They were good at leaping from one vertical tree trunk to another and then walking along the branches searching for insects and fruit. There is no difference between males and females in these early primates, so it seems that they were probably not social.

This extinct species is one of the earliest known primates.


Meaning of scientific name They are named after the primate researcher Marc Godinot.


Pronunciation of scientific name God-in-OH-sha



Physical description Godinotia looked very like a small lemur.


Distribution An incomplete specimen has been found in the Messel shales, Germany, and very closely related primates are known from other sites in Europe.


Habitat They lived in the tropical forests covering the earth during the Eocene.


Diet Godinotia was omnivorous - feeding mostly on insects, but also fruit when available.


Behaviour There are several lemur-like primates found in the Eocene forests, and some, such as Godinotia, have such large eye sockets that they were probably nocturnal. Their limbs show that they were adapted for leaping from one vertical tree trunk to another and then walking along the branches.


Reproduction A preserved penis bone (baculum) from a closely related primate is remarkably long. By analogy with modern primates, this suggests that they mated once with each female that they met, but that this mating lasted for a long time.


Conservation status Extinct.


History They lived 49 million years ago. Primates earlier than around 50 million years ago are little known, but it is thought that they shared an ancestor with rodents during the time of the dinosaurs, and that the earliest primates were rather like squirrels or tree shrews.


Closest relative They are related to modern primates, although it is not certain whether they are most closely related to lemurs or whether the resemblance is superficial.

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