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Am J Phys Anthropol. 1996 Jun;100(2):261-92.

Skull of Catopithecus browni, an early tertiary catarrhine.

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  • 1Department of Biological Anthropology and Anatomy, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27705, USA.


Fossil crania from quarry L-41, Fayum, Egypt, representing Catopithecus browni, a primate similar in size to callitrichids but with a catarrhine dental formula, provide the geologically earliest record of an anthropoidean skull. Catopithecus had postorbital closure developed to the stage seen in extant anthropoideans, with direct contact between zygomatic plate and maxillary tuber, isolating an anterior orbital fissure from the inferior orbital fissure. The auditory region also resembles that of later anthropoideans: The posterior carotid foramen is placed adjacent to the jugular fossa; a large promontory canal crosses the promontorium; and the annular ectotympanic is fused ventrally to the bulla. The incisors and canines show an assemblage of features found only among modern anthropoideans and adapoids. The face is characterized by a relatively deep maxilla, broad ascending wing of the premaxilla, and long nasal bones, yielding a moderate muzzle similar to that of Aegyptopithecus. The small braincase bears an anteriorly broad frontal trigon and a posteriorly developed sagittal crest. The mandibular symphysis is unfused even in mature adults. The encephalization quotient (EQ) probably falls within the range of Eocene prosimians, much lower than the EQs of Neogene anthropoideans.

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