Myanmar-French Pondaung Primates Expedition  (MFPPE)

Central Myanmar

A formation rich in fossil vertebrates that documents
a unique period of southeastern Asia, the middle Eocene (47-39 Ma)

Principal investigator

Research question

The Eocene mammalian faunas from southeastern Asia yield many fossils that document the origins of several groups of extant mammals (suids, tragulids, colugos, anthropoids). It is especially the case for the oldest recorded anthropoid primates, which are much diversified and highlight the early history and evolution of that group.

Some results

Many publications and PhD have been produced concerning these researches which have been going on for more than 20 years. They deal with the geology, the age, the paleoenvironments, the mammalian faunas and notably a great diversity of primates, adapiforms and anthropoids. An Asian origination of the anthropoids was demonstrated by the presence of the oldest and most primitive known forms. These fossils also indicated a middle Eocene dispersal of the group to Africa, where they form the basal stock for the first hominoids and the hominids.

Mission organization

The MFPPE is a transdisciplinary field research program (paleontology, geology, paleoenvironments) leaded by PALEVOLPRIM in close cooperation with the Ministries of Culture and of Education of the Union of Myanmar. Each expedition associates Myanmar representatives of the Ministry of Culture and geologists and paleontologists from the Ministry of Higher Education with scientist from PALEVOLPRIM. The Myanmar participants are nominated by their government.


Financial support is provided each year by PALEVOLPRIM (CNRS and University of Poitiers), sometimes complemented by the National Geographic Society (2016) and the Leakey Foundation for anthropological research (2017).

Iconic publications

Licht, A., M. van Cappelle, et al. (2014). “Asian monsoons in a late Eocene greenhouse world.” Nature 513: 501-506.

Chaimanee, Y., O. Chavasseau, et al. (2012). “Late Middle Eocene primate from Myanmar and the initial anthropoid colonization of Africa.” Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 109(26): 10293-10297.

Jaeger, J.-J., Aung Naing Soe, et al. (2011). “First hominoid from the Late Miocene of the Irrawaddy Formation (Myanmar).” Plos One 6(4): e17065.

Jaeger, J.-J., Y. Chaimanee, et al. (2004). “Systematics and paleobiology of the anthropoid primate Pondaungia from the late Middle Eocene of Myanmar.” C. R. Palevol 3: 241-253.

Jaeger, J.-J., Tin Thein, et al. (1999). “A new primate from the middle Eocene of Myanmar and the Asian early origin of anthropoids.” Science 286: 528-530.



Tél. : +33 (0)5 49 45 37 53

Guylaine REYNAUD

Tél. : +33 (0)5 49 45 37 26

Fax : +33.(0)5 49 45 40 17


Université de Poitiers – UFR SFA


Bât B35 – TSA 51106

6 rue Michel Brunet

86073 POITIERS Cedex 9