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Temporal range: Paleocene-Eocene, 65–55 Ma
Plesiadapis NT.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Mirorder: Primatomorpha
Order: Plesiadapiformes
Simons and Tattersall, 1972

Cladistically included but traditionally excluded



Plesiadapiformes ("Adapid-like" or "near Adapiformes") is an order of mammals (possibly paraphyletic or polyphyletic[1][2][3][4]). The group is either closely related to the primates or a precursor to them. Many are too derived to be ancestral to primates, but the earliest Plesiadapiformes had teeth that are strongly indicative of a common ancestor. Purgatorius is believed to be a basal Plesiadapiformes.

Plesiadapiformes first appear in the fossil record between 65 and 55 million years ago,[5] although many were extinct by the beginning of the Eocene. They may have been the first mammals to have finger nails in place of claws.[6]

In the following simplified cladogram, the crown primates are found to be deep in the Plesiadapiformes tree, possibly as sister of the Carpolestidae.[4] The crown primates are cladistically granted here into the Plesiadapiformes, and the 'plesiadapiformes' become a junior synonym of the primates. With this tree, the plesiadapiformes are not literally extinct (in the sense of having no surviving descendants). The crown primates are also called "Euprimates" in this context.


Rodentia (rodents)

Lagomorpha (rabbits, hares, pikas)


Scandentia (treeshrews)


Dermoptera (colugos)









Crown Primates


One possible classification table of plesiadapiform families is listed below.


  1. ^ Henke, Winfried; Tattersall, Ian; Hardt, Thorolf (2007). Handbook of Paleoanthropology: Vol I:Principles, Methods and Approaches Vol II:Primate Evolution and Human Origins Vol III:Phylogeny of Hominids. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 839. ISBN 978-3-540-32474-4. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  2. ^ Boyer, Doug M.; Costeur, Loïc; Lipman, Yaron (2012). "Earliest record of Platychoerops(Primates, Plesiadapidae), a new species from Mouras Quarry, Mont de Berru, France". American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 149 (3): 329–346. doi:10.1002/ajpa.22119. ISSN 0002-9483. PMID 22926965.
  3. ^ Ni, X.; Meng, J.; Beard, K. C.; Gebo, D. L.; Wang, Y.; Li, C. (2009). "A new tarkadectine primate from the Eocene of Inner Mongolia, China: phylogenetic and biogeographic implications". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 277 (1679): 247–256. doi:10.1098/rspb.2009.0173. ISSN 0962-8452. PMC 2842661. PMID 19386655.
  4. ^ a b Silcox, Mary T.; Bloch, Jonathan I.; Boyer, Doug M.; Chester, Stephen G. B.; López‐Torres, Sergi (2017). "The evolutionary radiation of plesiadapiforms". Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews. 26 (2): 74–94. doi:10.1002/evan.21526. ISSN 1520-6505. PMID 28429568.
  5. ^ Paleontologists discover most primitive primate skeleton -
  6. ^ ""Sleep, First Primates, Earthquakes in the Midwest and Profile: Sang-Mook Lee"". NOVA scienceNOW. Season 4. Episode 8. Transcripts – NOVA scienceNOW: July 9, 2008. 9 July 2008. 13:04 minutes in. PBS.

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