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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Family: See text.
Genus: Ekgmowechashala
Macdonald, 1963
Species: E. philotau
Binomial name
Ekgmowechashala philotau
Macdonald, 1963[1]

Ekgmowechashala (Sioux: "little cat man"[1][2] or "little fox man"[3]) is an extinct genus of primate. With a weight of approximately five pounds,[4] around a foot tall and resembling a lemur,[5] it is the only known North American primate of its time; it lived during the late Oligocene and early Miocene.[5][6][7] Its classification remains problematic,[8] and it has been classified as a member of the extinct family Omomyidae (related to tarsiers), the equally extinct Plagiomenidae (related to colugos), and the Adapiformes, the extinct relatives of lemurs and other strepsirrhines.[7][9][10][11] Dentitions from Oregon suggest that it was related to Rooneyia, though some scientists saw in them a likeness to Necrolemur and Microchoerus.[9]

The shape of its teeth,[12] and their likeness to those of raccoons, indicate that it ate soft fruit provided by the warm forests of the Rocky Mountains during the early Miocene.[13]

Fossil evidence of Ekgmowechashala was discovered on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, an Oglala Sioux Native American reservation in South Dakota.[14] Molars were found in 1981 in the basin of John Day River, and these are in the collection of the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture;[15] in the summer of 1997 John Zancanella of the Bureau of Land Management found a lower molar in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.[4][16][17] The material from Oregon and South Dakota is attributed to the only known species, Ekgmowechashala philotau. A single Ekgmowechashala tooth from the Toledo Bend Ranch Local Fauna of far eastern Texas may represent a second species.[18]


  1. ^ a b MacDonald, James Reid (1963). "The Miocene faunas from the Wounded Knee area of western South Dakota". Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 125: 139–238. hdl:2246/1259. 
  2. ^ Howells, William White (1997). Getting here: the story of human evolution. Howells House. p. 69. ISBN 978-0-929590-16-5. Retrieved 10 October 2010. 
  3. ^ North, Michael (30 September 2005). "Sick puppies, chief nipple twisters and the King of gall wasps". Times Higher Education. 
  4. ^ a b "25-Million-Year-Old Primate Fossil Dug Up at John Day Beds". The Columbian. 15 January 1998. Retrieved 11 October 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Bishop, Ellen Morris (2003). In search of ancient Oregon: a geological and natural history. Timber Press. p. 114. ISBN 978-0-88192-590-6. Retrieved 10 October 2010. 
  6. ^ McKenna, Malcolm C.; Bell, Susan K. (1997). Classification of Mammals: Above the Species Level. Columbia University Press. p. 327. ISBN 0-231-11013-8. 
  7. ^ a b Marivaux, Laurent; Chaimanee, Yaowalak; Tafforeau, Paul; Jaeger, Jean-Jacques (2006). "New strepsirrhine primate from the Late Eocene of peninsular Thailand (Krabi Basin)". American Journal of Physical Anthropology 130: 425–434. doi:10.1002/ajpa.20376. PMID 16444732. 
  8. ^ Rose, Kenneth David (2006). The beginning of the age of mammals. JHU Press. p. 191. ISBN 978-0-8018-8472-6. Retrieved 10 October 2010. 
  9. ^ a b Gunnell, Gregg F.; Kenneth D. Rose (2002). "Tarsiiformes: Evolutionary History and Adaptation". In Walter Carl Hartwig. The primate fossil record. Cambridge UP. pp. 45–82 [72]. ISBN 978-0-521-66315-1. Retrieved 10 October 2010. 
  10. ^ Cartmill, Matt; Fred H. Smith; Kaye B. Brown (2009). The Human Lineage. John Wiley and Sons. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-471-21491-5. Retrieved 10 October 2010. 
  11. ^ Ni, Xijun; Meng, Jin; Beard, K. Christopher; Gebo, Daniel L.; Wang, Yuanqing; Li, Chuankui (2009). "A new tarkadectine primate from the Eocene of Inner Mongolia, China: phylogenetic and biogeographic implications". Proceedings of the Royal Society B 277: 247–256. doi:10.1098/rspb.2009.0173. 
  12. ^ Fleagle, John C. (1999). Primate adaptation and evolution. Academic Press. p. 378. ISBN 978-0-12-260341-9. Retrieved 10 October 2010. 
  13. ^ Delson, Eric; Ian Tattersall; John A. Van Couvering (2000). Encyclopedia of human evolution and prehistory. Taylor & Francis. p. 485. ISBN 978-0-8153-1696-1. 
  14. ^ Mayor, Adrienne (2005). Fossil legends of the first Americans. Princeton UP. p. 242. ISBN 978-0-691-11345-6. Retrieved 11 October 2010. 
  15. ^ PLSS data for the site, A5930 (Rudio Creek 4), are missing. Bryant, Laurie J. "Report on the Assessment of Vertebrate Paleontological Collections, Burke Museum of Natural History, University of Washington" (PDF). Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. Retrieved 11 October 2010. 
  16. ^ Mortenson, Eric. "Fossil Tooth Find Creates Stir". Eugene Register-Guard. Retrieved 11 October 2010. 
  17. ^ "John Day Fossil Beds National Monument: Fossil List". National Park Service. Retrieved 11 October 2010. 
  18. ^ Albright III, L. Barry (2005). "Ekgmowechashala (Mammalia, ?Primates) from the Gulf coastal plain". Bulletin of the Florida Museum of Natural History 45 (4): 355–361.