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Durham University

Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff

Publication details for Professor Sarah Elton

Elton, S. (2017). Adaptive Radiation. In The International Encyclopedia of Primatology. Fuentes, A. Chichester, UK Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Author(s) from Durham


Adaptive radiation is the rapid diversification, from a single common ancestor, of a group of species whose members exhibit a diverse array of adaptations and occupy different ecological niches. Numerous adaptive radiations are evident in the primates, past and present, with two of the best-studied examples being the lemurs of Madagascar and the Neotropical platyrrhines. However, radiations are not always “adaptive” and there is still considerable scope for exploring in detail the evolutionary processes that led to radiation, adaptive or not, in modern and fossil primate taxa.