Re: What is a hominid?

Herb Huston (
13 Mar 1995 23:05:25 -0500

In article <3k27p4$>,
Jim Foley <> wrote:
}The commonest definition of a hominid I have seen is: anything on our
}side of the last common ancestor of us and any of the living apes. I've
}read in a couple of places recently that some scientists are using a new
}broader definition that would include at least chimps and gorillas.

And orangutans, too.

}I'd like to know if this change is widely accepted yet, and the purpose
}behind it.

It has become more difficult to justify the placement of _Pan_, _Gorilla_,
and _Pongo_ in one family and _Homo_ in another.

} What is difference between the new definition of hominids,
}and that of hominoids (apes)?

Family Pongidae would be abolished and its members moved into Hominidae.
Here's a rough outline:

Superfamily Hominoidea
Family Proconsulidae
Family Hylobatidae - gibbons and siamangs
Family Hominidae
Subfamily Dryopithecinae
Tribe Afropithecini
Tribe Dryopithecini
Tribe Kenaypithecini
Subfamily Ponginae
Tribe Sivapithecini
Tribe Pongini - orangutans
Subfamily Homininae
Tribe Gorillini - gorillas
Tribe Hominini - chimps, bonobos, and humans

For details, see Peter Andrews, "Evolution and Environment in the
Hominoidea," _Nature_ 360:641-6 (17 December 1992).

-- Herb Huston