Retrophylogenomics place tarsiers on the evolutionary branch of anthropoids.

Sci Rep. 2013 Apr 30;3:1756. doi: 10.1038/srep01756.


One of the most disputed issues in primate evolution and thus of our own primate roots, is the phylogenetic position of the Southeast Asian tarsier. While much molecular data indicate a basal place in the primate tree shared with strepsirrhines (prosimian monophyly hypothesis), data also exist supporting either an earlier divergence in primates (tarsier-first hypothesis) or a close relationship with anthropoid primates (Haplorrhini hypothesis). The use of retroposon insertions embedded in the Tarsius genome afforded us the unique opportunity to directly test all three hypotheses via three pairwise genome alignments. From millions of retroposons, we found 104 perfect orthologous insertions in both tarsiers and anthropoids to the exclusion of strepsirrhines, providing conflict-free evidence for the Haplorrhini hypothesis, and none supporting either of the other two positions. Thus, tarsiers are clearly the sister group to anthropoids in the clade Haplorrhini.


Hartig G, Churakov G, Warren WC, Brosius J, Makalowski W, Schmitz J.

Institute Authors

Wes Warren, Ph.D.