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Anat Res Int. 2012;2012:478903. doi: 10.1155/2012/478903. Epub 2012 May 7.

Morphometric analysis of cranial shape in fossil and recent euprimates.

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1
Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, UK.

Abstract

Quantitative analysis of morphology allows for identification of subtle evolutionary patterns or convergences in anatomy that can aid ecological reconstructions of extinct taxa. This study explores diversity and convergence in cranial morphology across living and fossil primates using geometric morphometrics. 33 3D landmarks were gathered from 34 genera of euprimates (382 specimens), including the Eocene adapiforms Adapis and Leptadapis and Quaternary lemurs Archaeolemur, Palaeopropithecus, and Megaladapis. Landmark data was treated with Procrustes superimposition to remove all nonshape differences and then subjected to principal components analysis and linear discriminant function analysis. Haplorhines and strepsirrhines were well separated in morphospace along the major components of variation, largely reflecting differences in relative skull length and width and facial depth. Most adapiforms fell within or close to strepsirrhine space, while Quaternary lemurs deviated from extant strepsirrhines, either exploring new regions of morphospace or converging on haplorhines. Fossil taxa significantly increased the area of morphospace occupied by strepsirrhines. However, recent haplorhines showed significantly greater cranial disparity than strepsirrhines, even with the inclusion of the unusual Quaternary lemurs, demonstrating that differences in primate cranial disparity are likely real and not simply an artefact of recent megafaunal extinctions.

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