Friday mystery object #111 answer

On Friday I gave you this object (from the NHM) to identify:

It was a bit of a tricky one for those of you who haven’t seen the First Time Out exhibition (jackashby and David Godfrey obviously did see it). This fossil skull looks like it belonged to some kind of pig rather than a primate – yes, that’s right, I said primate.

The main feature visible here that indicates that this skull may belong to a primate is the enclosed orbit, which isn’t a particularly strong characteristic since various ungulates also have an enclosed orbit – as I said, it’s a tricky one.

The type of primate is the Koala Lemur Megaladapis edwardsi Forsyth Major, 1894 from Madagascar. It was an arboreal, slow moving, gorilla-sized folivore – with superficial similarities to Koalas (hence the name). It is hypothesised that the extended bony nasal region may have supported a prehensile top lip, that would have been beneficial when foraging for leaves in the trees.

I won’t go into much detail here, because other curators have provided their interpretation for this object as part of the First Time Out project, so I will leave you with a link to that information. However, I would be interested in taking a closer look at the dentition and complete skeleton of one of these animals – I’d like to get a better grip on this apparent convergence on a suid cranial morphology and more gorilla-like body. I wonder what it might have looked like?

Gamorrean Guards by Dextar FX

4 thoughts on “Friday mystery object #111 answer

  1. That is probably the most scientifically accurate reconstruction of this animal, although the colour of the armour is strictly conjectural.

  2. The NHM have a mounted skeleton on display in the Primates gallery, although I think its a cast, and much may be reconstructed. Its been a while since I took a look at the label. The body is surprising long and doesn’t look particularly Gorilla-like, even if the limb proportions are roughly comparable.

  3. Two years ago I sculpted a life reconstruction of Megaladapis´head based on a model of it´s skull:

    This lemurs were really strange and quite different from all other living lemurs. Some parts of their anatomy are quite unusual, and especially the downwards-curved Os nasale is really really freaky, and I had a hard time ti think how the nose really looked in life. You can also see a painted version of the model here:

    BTW, Megaladapis was probably far away from being gorilla-sized, but more in the range of a male chimp. Some of the early size estimations are way too big. Megaladapis had a proportionally huge head, but the rest of its body was actually not that big at all. Archaeoindris had probably really dimensions comparable to those of a Gorilla, but none of the Megaladapis species came close to this.

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