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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Aug 29;97(18):10062-7.

Anthropoid humeri from the late Eocene of Egypt.

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  • 1Department of Biological Anthropology and Anatomy and Primate Center, Duke University, Durham, NC 27705, USA.


A number of recent studies have, by necessity, placed a great deal of emphasis on the dental evidence for Paleogene anthropoid interrelationships, but cladistic analyses of these data have led to the erection of phylogenetic hypotheses that appear to be at odds with biogeographic and stratigraphic considerations. Additional morphological data from the cranium and postcranium of certain poorly understood Paleogene primates are clearly needed to help test whether such hypotheses are tenable. Here we describe humeri attributable to Proteopithecus sylviae and Catopithecus browni, two anthropoids from late Eocene sediments of the Fayum Depression in Egypt. Qualitative and morphometric analyses of these elements indicate that humeri of the oligopithecine Catopithecus are more similar to early Oligocene propliopithecines than they are to any other Paleogene anthropoid taxon, and that Proteopithecus exhibits humeral similarities to parapithecids that may be symplesiomorphies of extant (or "crown") Anthropoidea. The humeral morphology of Catopithecus is consistent with certain narrowly distributed dental apomorphies-such as the loss of the upper and lower second premolar and the development of a honing blade for the upper canine on the lower third premolar-which suggest that oligopithecines constitute the sister group of a clade containing propliopithecines and Miocene-Recent catarrhines and are not most closely related to Proteopithecus as has recently been proposed.

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