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J Hum Evol. 2003 Dec;45(6):441-64.

A reassessment of living hominoid postcranial variability: implications for ape evolution.

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Harvard University, Department of Anthropology, 11 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.


In an analysis of hominoid postcranial variation, 'Evol. Anthrop. 6 (1998) 87' argued that many purportedly unique features of the hominoid postcranium are actually much more variable than previously reported and in many instances overlap with both suspensory (Ateles) and non-suspensory primates. Based on these results, it was concluded that parallelism in the living ape postcranium was a plausible and even likely possibility given the Miocene hominoid postcranial record. However, this analysis did not distinguish whether within-hominoid variability or overlap with non-hominoids involved one or all ape taxa, a distinction which has potentially important effects on the interpretation of results. To address this issue, primate postcranial morphometric data from the trunk and forelimb were reanalyzed using three techniques: cladistic analysis, principle components analysis, and cluster analysis. Results reveal that these postcranial characters distinguish not only suspensory and quadrupedal primates but also discriminate hominoids and Ateles from all other taxa, great apes from lesser apes and Ateles, cercopithecines from colobines, and cercopithecoids from platyrrhines. The majority of hominoid variability and overlap with Ateles occurs with Hylobates humeral head and shoulder joint characters related to brachiation. This suggests that Hylobates' specializations may skew analyses of hominoid postcranial uniqueness and variability, and that great apes are relatively similar in their postcranium.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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