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Temporal range: Early Eocene–Present
Tarsiers are prosimian primates, but more closely related to monkeys, apes, and humans (simians) than to other prosimians.
Tarsiers are prosimian primates, but more closely related to monkeys, apes, and humans (simians) than to other prosimians.
Scientific classificationEdit this classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
(unranked): Prosimii
Illiger, 1811(defunct)[a]
Groups included
Cladistically included but traditionally excluded taxa


Prosimians are a group of proto-primates. It includes all living and extinct strepsirrhines (lemurs, lorises, and adapiforms),[5] as well as the haplorhine tarsiers and their extinct relatives, the omomyiforms.

They have characteristics that are more "primitive" (ancestral or plesiomorphic) than those of simians (monkeys, apes, and humans).[5]

Prosimians are a paraphyletic group and not a clade (a group of an ancestor and all its descendants). Tarsiers share a more recent common ancestor with all simians than with the strepsirrhines. Consequently, the term "prosimian" is no longer an official term in taxonomy. It is still used to compare their behaviour with that of other primates.

Prosimians are the only primates native to Madagascar, but are also found throughout Africa and in Asia.

References[change | change source]

  1. Rose 2006, p. 166.
  2. Szalay & Delson 1980, p. 149.
  3. Cartmill 2010, p. 15.
  4. Hartwig 2011, pp. 20–21.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Whitten P.L. & Brockman D.K. 2001. (2001). "Chapter 14: Strepsirrhine reproductive ecology". In Ellison, P. T (ed.). Reproductive ecology and human evolution. Transaction Publishers. pp. 321–350. ISBN 978-0-202-30658-2.


  1. The division of the order Primates into two evolutionary grades, Prosimii ("lower primates") and Anthropoidea ("higher primates") is sometimes used, but has been shown through morphological and genetic evidence to be incorrect. Alternatively, a three-way split in the order Primates—Prosimii, Tarsiiformes, and Anthropoidea—has also been suggested.[1]
  2. Although the monophyletic relationship between lemurs and lorisoids is widely accepted, their clade name is not. The term "lemuriform" is used here because it derives from one popular taxonomy that clumps the clade of toothcombed primates into one infraorder and the extinct, non-toothcombed adapiforms into another, both within the suborder Strepsirrhini.[2][3] However, another popular alternative taxonomy places the lorisoids in their own infraorder, Lorisiformes.[4]