Re: Miocene and Pliocene apes familiy tree?

Harry Erwin (
Sun, 23 Jul 1995 17:08:16 -0400

This posting reflects the current state of my database.

In article <3up6is$>, Alex Duncan
<> wrote:

> In article <3uo773$> Joerg Rhiemeier,
> writes:
> >Does anyone know more details about how the different miocene and pliocene
> >apes (e.g. Proconsul, Ramapithecus, Sivapithecus, Kenyapithecus,
> >Dryopithecus, Oreopithecus, Gigantopithecus, ...) relate to each other
> >and to modern apes, and human? ---trimmed---
> Ramapithecus has been lumped into Sivapithecus, and doesn't exist
> anymore. Both Siva and Gigantopithecus are now recognized as sister
> groups of Pongo.

G. seems closer to Pongo.

> 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.

> 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.

> 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.

> 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

> 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?

> There are no good candidates for a common ancestor of chimp and human.
> A. ramidus is the closest thing to that yet, and it is probably
> post-divergence (i.e., more closely related to humans than to chimps).

It's a bit late, too. In any case it's close.

Harry Erwin
Home Page: (try again if necessary)
PhD student in comp neurosci: "Glitches happen" & "Meaning is emotional"