Saturday, January 28, 2012

Primates: More than just a pretty face

Study by UCLA biologists proposed a possible reason for the astonishing diversity in the faces of Neotropical primates

"The rich diversity of primate faces has interested naturalists for over a century. Researchers have long pro- posed that social behaviours have shaped the evolution of primate facial diversity. However, the primate face constitutes a unique structure where the diverse and potentially competing functions of communi- cation, ecology and physiology intersect, and the major determinants of facial diversity remain poorly understood. Here, we provide the first evidence for an adaptive role of facial colour patterns and pigmen- tation within Neotropical primates. Consistent with the hypothesis that facial patterns function in communication and species recognition, we find that species living in smaller groups and in sympatry with a higher number of congener species have evolved more complex patterns of facial colour. The evol- ution of facial pigmentation and hair length is linked to ecological factors, and ecogeographical rules related to UV radiation and thermoregulation are met by some facial regions. Our results demonstrate the interaction of behavioural and ecological factors in shaping one of the most outstanding facial diversities of any mammalian lineage."

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Full article:


Sharlene E. Santana, Jessica Lynch Alfaro, and Michael E. Alfaro. Adaptive evolution of facial colour patterns in Neotropical primates. Proc. R. Soc. B, January 11, 2012 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2011.2326

University of California - Los Angeles (2012, January 11). Evolution is written all over your face. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 28, 2012, from­/releases/2012/01/120111223744.htm

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