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We know that old world monkeys also originated and migrated out of Africa millions of years ago, but until now, it has been unclear as to exactly when and how," said Dr Chris Gilbert, lead author of the study.
This is a wonderful discovery, a real missing link that fills in a gap in our understanding of the timing and pattern of anatomical change involved in the evolution of Old World monkeys and apes," remarks anthropologist John Fleagle of Stony Brook University in New York.
By investigating the flexibility of gestures production, we showed that old world monkeys, and not only great apes, may use communicative signals intentionally," Maille explained.
It's one of 22 species of macaques, all of which are classified as Old World monkeys.
Correcting for animal size, the researchers compared scans from 16 fossil species spanning New World monkeys, Old World monkeys and apes, to living primates whose locomotor behaviours are known.
An ancestor of the howler monkeys had apparently matched the gene duplication that Old World monkeys experienced, yet the evolutionary force preserving the new opsin doesn't appear to have been an advantage in gathering fruit.
Sequences of DNA components from 97 human genes were compared with corresponding chimp DNA sequences and with available sequences from gorillas, orangutans, Old World monkeys, and mice.
Its relative size is progresively larger in New World monkeys (such as squirrel monkeys), Old World monkeys (such as baboons), and finally great apes (chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and humans).
Prof John David Smith from the State University of New York at Buffalo and Michael Beran from the Georgia State University, trained the macaques, which are Old World monkeys, to use a joystick-based computer game.
Scientists believe that 30 million years ago the virus, which they call human endogenous retrovirus K (HERV-K), first infected the germ cells--sperm or eggs--of Old World monkeys whose descendants include the human species.
It is well known that Old World monkeys and apes share ancestry, but exactly when the two branches split from the common trunk has been unclear.
now suggests the distinguishing force was the appetite of Old World monkeys.