From the BBC:
One thing that has consistently baffled researchers, however, is how primates arrived in South America.
Unlikely though it sounds, the monkeys simply have to have crossed the Atlantic. Last year, new evidence emerged that reignited the debate and pushed this transatlantic crossing theory to the forefront.
Monkey teeth that look like old world monkey teeth, found in the Peruvian Amazon. But …
Given that plate tectonics cannot explain how monkeys reached South America, rafting has to have played a part. In fact, it has been suggested that rafting events are also responsible for seeding South America with the ancestors of its rodents and hoatzin birds. Clearly, the Eocene Atlantic was a veritable thoroughfare for nautical creatures.
If this is starting to sound silly to you, then you are in good company. In his comprehensive analysis of the topic, Alain Houle of the University of Montreal admonishes his predecessors for consistently using rafting as a fix-all solution without considering its practicalities.
Concrete evidence is hard to come by for such an unusual occurrence. But given the feasibility of both a floating island’s formation and its capacity to carry a healthy(ish) population of monkeys, it can at least be said to work in theory.
Oceanic rafting has received its share of criticism over the years, but the more its effects can be properly quantified, the more it is turning from a convenient go-to explanation for bizarre animal distributions into a well-tested and legitimate hypothesis. The “monkey sailor” idea, while bizarre, is no longer as nonsensical as it first appears. More.
Hey, we like this story because it doesn’t take itself too seriously, a common failing in this area. We know how the Vikings got to Labrador (they told us). We don’t know how the monkeys got to South America.
See also: The influence of biogeography on evolutionary thought
Follow UD News at Twitter!