Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
by Brooks Hays
New York (UPI) Jun 26, 2013
Why do monkey populations and species living in close proximity to each other look so distinct? A new scientific study -- published this week in the journal Nature Communications -- suggests it is to "strengthen reproductive isolation between populations."
In other words, the facial features of Old World monkeys have evolved to separate themselves from other geographically proximate species, preventing crossbreeding.
"Evolution produces adaptations that help animals thrive in a particular environment, and over time these adaptations lead to the evolution of new species," explained study author James Higham, an assistant professor in New York University's Department of Anthropology. "A key question is what mechanisms keep closely related species that overlap geographically from inter-breeding, so that they are maintained as separate species?"
The answer -- as researchers from NYU and Exeter University, in the United Kingdom, found out -- is precise facial feature differentiation. Features like various face markings, colorful eyebrow patches, ear tufts, nose spots, mouth patches and more.
The researchers arrived at their conclusion after first photographing and then analyzing the facial features of some 22 types of guenons, or Cercopithecini -- a group of monkeys which first evolved in the forests of Central and West Africa. By plotting and comparing specific facials features, the researchers we able to show that each species' markings and features became more distinct over time. They were also able to show that those species that spent time in close proximity were more likely to stand out from each other than species that spent less time together.
"These results strongly suggest that the extraordinary appearance of these monkeys has been due to selection for visual signals that discourage hybridization," said lead author William Allen, who has since left NYU's Department of Anthropology for the University of Hull in England. "This is perhaps the strongest evidence to date for a role for visual signals in the key evolutionary processes by which species are formed and maintained, and it is particularly exciting that we have found it in part of our own lineage."
All About Human Beings and How We Got To Be Here
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.|