Produced by the Population Genetics and Evolution class, Furman University

The Paleogene: Purgatorius
Purgatorius is believed to be one of the earliest, most primitive plesiadapiforms, primate like mammals. They were small in size, with teeth that share characteristics with both plesiadapiforms and true primates. They most likely fed on insects as well as soft plant material (like fruits). There is debate on whether it should be classified as a primate or an early plesiadapiform. The morphology of the post canines has characteristics reminiscent of an early primate, but specializations of the incisors suggest that it was more likely a the Plesiadapiformes (Clemens 2004). Previous depictions have set Purgatorius in the same time frame as organisms from the Cretaceous, but it seems more likely that this was a case of mixed sediments as the majority of fossils are from the Paleocene (Jehle 2006).

Page by Megan Aprill

Image of Purgatorius, from: Dinosaur pictures

Clemens, WA. 2004. Purgatorius (Plesiadapiformes, Primates?, Mammalia), A Paleocene Immigrant Into Northeastern Montana: Stratiagraphic Occurences And Incisor Proportions. Bulletin of Carnegie Museum of Natural History, 36: 3-13.

Jehle, M. 2006. Primate-like Mammals: A Stunning Diversity in the tree tops. Paleocene Mammals of the World. Accessed April 9, 2010.

Wikipedia. 2010. Purgatorius. Accessed April 9, 2010.