Monkeys first arrived in the Neotropics about 36 Ma, and the ancestry of all living Neotropical primates (Platyrrhini) traces to a single common ancestral population from 24 to 19 Ma. The availability of lush Amazonian habitat, the rise of the Andes, the transition from the lacustrine to riverine system in the Amazon Basin, and the intermittent connection between the Amazon and the Atlantic tropical forests have all shaped how primates spread and diversified. Primates outcompeted native South American mammals but faced an influx of North American fauna with the closing of the Isthmus of Panama. Humans, extreme newcomers in the Neotropics, have influenced primate habitat and ecology over the last 13,000 years, with radical transformations in the last 500 years as a result of European colonization and land use change. Neotropical primate biogeography informs taxonomic work and conservation efforts, with a mind toward mitigating effects of direct human impact and human-mediated climate change.


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