Re: Miocene and Pliocene apes familiy tree?

Alex Duncan (
24 Jul 1995 16:43:45 GMT

In article <herwin-2307951648330001@> Harry Erwin, writes:

Harry, I'm going to ask you to dig into your database and answer some
questions for me. I want to make it clear that I'm not questioning your
database or its results, but am genuinely curious what answers you have
available for some of these questions. I'd dig into your database
myself, but you know your way around in there, and I don't, so...
>G. seems closer to Pongo.
Than Siva? What synapomorphies aren't also present in Siva?

>> I don't think anyone really knows what to do w/ Kenyapithecus anymore.
>> It shows remarkable dental similarities to Sivapithecus, but I don't know
>> that anyone is comfortable with placing it in the Siva/Pongo clade. Most
>> of the material is dental, mandibular, or maxillary.
>K. seems to be the sister group of the Pongines.

I assume you use pongines to mean Siva/Giganto/Pongo? What
synapomorphies link Kenyapithecus w/ the pongines? I've always thought
the teeth were dead ringers (though I think K. teeth are more likely to
retain a cingulum), but never could quantify my observation, since I'm
not a dental dude.

>> Dryopithecus is a controversial genus. It almost certainly lies either
>> just within the large ape clade, or as a sistergroup to the rest of the
>> large apes. Some of the premaxillary/maxillary anatomy looks "African
>> hominoid", but there are other features that may indicate relations w/
>> Siva/Pongo. As is usually the case, more material is needed.
>D. appears to be the sister group of the AA clade, with the Pongines being
>the sister group of the Dryopithecines.

Are you using "Dryopithecines" as the name of the clade containing
Dryopithecus and African apes? I suspect I know what the synapomorphies
are here, but what comes out of your database?

>> Oreopithecus is weird. It almost certainly lies WITHIN the extant
>> hominoid clade (although there have been claims its a cercopithecoid).
>> It shows similarities to several different extant groups, including
>> gibbons and humans. I don't really think anyone knows what to do with it.
>The database likes the gibbons as a sister group of O., and O. as the
>sister group of the Kenyapithecines.

If I'm not mistaken, this would mean that you've broken up the large ape
clade, and placed orangs in a clade w/ gibbons, since Kenyapithecus is a
sister clade to Pongines.

>> Proconsul IS NOT considered a common ancestor of the great apes and Homo,
>> or even of all extant hominoids. It is too primitive, lacking many
>> derived features shared by all living taxa. It is a sister clade to all
>> extant apes.
>Yes. The database has the pliopithecines as the sister group of the
>cercopithecines and the pair as the sister group of the proconsulids

I was under the impression that pliopiths were to primitive to be INSIDE
the extant catarrhine clade. They have only a partial tubular tympanic.
If you clade them with cercopiths, then cercopiths and 'noids would have
had to develop this feature independently of one another. What
synapomorphies link pliopiths and cercopiths?

>> The best candidates for common ancestry of African 'noids (including
>> humans) are Dryopithecus and Ouranopithecus (= Graecopithecus?).
>> Ouranopithecus especially shows potentially apomorphic features (African
>> pattern premax/palate articulation, well-developed supraorbital tori)
>> that link it with African apes. There was a recent suggestion that
>> Ouranopithecus is in fact a sister group to gorillas, and the discoverers
>> of much of the recent material make a reasonable case for Ouranopithecus
>> being the earliest hominid (I use "hominid" in the traditional sense
>> here).
>Yes. My DB suggests it's about as far from Gorilla as P. paniscus is from
>P. trog. That's probably wrong, given the lack of post cranial data.
>> Another very interesting Late Miocene (~8 Myr) hominoid is Motopithecus
>> from the Samburu Hills of Kenya. The genus is based upon a single
>> maxillary fragment that superficially looks a great deal like a gorilla.
>> However, the enamel is thick.
>Samburu hominid?

I think it has been referred to as a hominid, but there is no good
evidence (that I know of) to link it w/ humans & australopiths.

Alex Duncan
Dept. of Anthropology
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712-1086