Fossil range: Early Eocene
German fossil primates
Radiographic comparison of Middle Eocene primates from Geiseltal in eastern Germany. G is a Godinotia neglecta fossil.
Scientific classification










Franzen, 2000


  • †Godinotia neglecta
    (Halmann, Haubold & Martin, 1989)

Godinotia is an extinct genus of lemur-like prosimian belonging to the Adapidae family. It lived during the Eocene epoch (49 million years ago), and its fossils have been found in the Messel Pit, Germany, showing that it already exhibited hominid features that would help make the primates such a successful group. It is one of the earliest-known primates, but the origins of the group remain controversial: some claim that the oldest primate is 70 million years old, but this is based on a single fossilized tooth. The oldest definite primate fossils date from around 55 million years ago and belong to animals that are similar to Godinotia.

The fossils also show that Godinotia was especially vulnerable to attack by crocodiles, which may have grabbed them from riverbanks when they came down from the trees to drink.


Godinotia was about 30 cm long, excluding the tail, smaller than a domestic cat.


Like all the earliest primates, Godinotia lived up in the trees, where food was plentiful and there were few large predators. To get about and feed, it had excellent binocular vision, long limbs, and grasping hands that it would have used to cling to branches or leap between trees. Their eyes were large, so they were probably nocturnal, and the shape of their teeth suggest that they ate insects and fruit.

The male and female Godinotia were about the same size as each other, which, if modern species are anything to go by, probably means they were solitary animals that met up only to mate. The large size of Godinotia's penis bone (Baculum) indicates that mating took place over a long period of time (possibly several hours). The male did this to be sure the female would become pregnant by him.

Discovery and speciesEdit

The genus is named after primate researcher Marc Godinot.


  • Haines, Tim, and Paul Chambers (2006). The Complete Guide to Prehistoric Life. Canada: Firefly Books Ltd.. pp. 155. 

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