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Sweepstakes rafting across the Atlantic – Marlin Peterson
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Sweepstakes rafting across the Atlantic

ancient monkeys cross the narrow atlantic archipelago to arrive in the new world

When I first read a reference of the notion that monkeys accidentally rafted across the Atlantic to land in the new world, it spun my imagination like crazy!  I had so many questions, didn’t even know quite where to start, so I read a lot of research papers that took on the issue.

Back in the Oligocene,(23-34MYA), the distance between the Africa and South America was much smaller, the paleo-current ran straight from the former to the latter, and there was a volcanic archipelago betwixt.  There was no evidence of monkeys in south america before the oligocine, but all of the sudden there was a mass radiation of species discovering all kinds of untapped habitats once the pioneers in questions arrived.

I was able to even talk to the author on the phone and he steered me into understanding that this most likely wasn’t one event, but dozens or hundreds of events over thousands and millions of years moving steadily through the archipelago.  The involuntary monkey pioneers are believed to have inhabited one island after another, starting all over the colonization event to the next island west.

A troup of monkeys sleeping in a grove of mangroves that got slammed by a rogue wave, the gnarled mass of trees or vegetation detached from the land and over the next days or hours or whatever, a select group of monkeys drift out into the open sea until they land, (at best) on an island?  or countless versions of that happening over millions of years until a successful landing happened…what would that look like?

I decided to render this image in Acrylic paint, which is a newish medium for me.  It was quite exciting to work out, and to research this fascinating idea.  The painting is not finished yet, I need to add some leaves and more beleagered monkeys…in due time.

let me know what you think about the imagery


  • Hallie

    Marlin, I noticed the monkey photograph is not next to the article! I don’t know if it’s just me, but that’s my favorite one and I cannot see it. That story is truly fascinating and that’s so awesome that you contacted the author and everything. And I still cannot get over how you can draw the glare on some of those insects!

    January 25, 2010 at 9:40 PM
  • Uncle Davidian

    I like the monkey.

    May 19, 2010 at 3:18 PM

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