name = "Purgatorius"
fossil_range = Latest Cretaceous to Earliest Paleocene

image_caption = "Purgatorius unio"
image_width = 250px
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Mammalia
subclassis = Placentalia
superordo = Archonta
ordo = Primates?/Plesiadiformes?
genus = "Purgatorius"
genus_authority = Van Valen and Sloan, 1965
type_species = "Purgatorius unio"
subdivision_ranks = Species
subdivision =
* "Purgatorius ceratops" Van Valen and Sloan, 1965
* "Purgatorius janisae" Van Valen, 1994
* "Purgatorius titusi" Buckley, 1997
* "Purgatorius unio" Van Valen and Sloan, 1965

"Purgatorius" is the genus of the four extinct species believed to be the earliest example of a primate or a proto-primate, a primatomorph precursor to the Plesiadapiformes. Remains were discovered in what is now Montana in deposits believed to be about 65 million years old. First described as primate-like by William Clemens in a 1974 issue of Science, it is believed to have been about as small as a rat in size.

Currently it is considered one of the only plesiadapiformes primitive enough to have possibly given rise to both later plesiadapiformes and higher primates. Though its classification below the superorder Archonta remains uncertain, dental evidence and molar morphology indicate a close link with the primate order.


*Buckley, G. (1997). “A New Species of "Purgatorius" (Mammalia; Primatomorpha) from the lower Paleocene Bear Formation, Crazy Mountains Basin, south-central Montana.“ Journal of Paleontology. Vol. 71:149-155.
*Clemens, W. A. (1974). “"Purgatorius", an early paromomyid primate.“ Science. Vol. 184:903-905.
*France, Diane L. "Lab Manual and Workbook for Physical Anthropology, 5th ed". Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2004.
* [http://www.fmnh.helsinki.fi/users/haaramo/Metazoa/Deuterostoma/Chordata/synapsida/Eutheria/Basal_Archonta/Archonta.htm Mikko's Phylogeny Archive]
*Van Valen, L. (1994). “The origin of the plesiadapid primates and the nature of "Purgatorius".“ Evolutionary Monographs. Vol. 15:1-79.
*Van Valen, L. and R. Sloan (1965). “The earliest primates.“ Science. Vol. 150:743-745.

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