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JOURNAL ARTICLE

A unique Middle Miocene European hominoid and the origins of the great ape and human clade

Salvador Moyà-Solà, David M Alba, Sergio Almécija, Isaac Casanovas-Vilar, Meike Köhler, Soledad De Esteban-Trivigno, Josep M Robles, Jordi Galindo, Josep Fortuny
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2009 June 16, 106 (24): 9601-6
19487676
The great ape and human clade (Primates: Hominidae) currently includes orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, and humans. When, where, and from which taxon hominids evolved are among the most exciting questions yet to be resolved. Within the Afropithecidae, the Kenyapithecinae (Kenyapithecini + Equatorini) have been proposed as the sister taxon of hominids, but thus far the fragmentary and scarce Middle Miocene fossil record has hampered testing this hypothesis. Here we describe a male partial face with mandible of a previously undescribed fossil hominid, Anoiapithecus brevirostris gen. et sp. nov., from the Middle Miocene (11.9 Ma) of Spain, which enables testing this hypothesis. Morphological and geometric morphometrics analyses of this material show a unique facial pattern for hominoids. This taxon combines autapomorphic features--such as a strongly reduced facial prognathism--with kenyapithecine (more specifically, kenyapithecin) and hominid synapomorphies. This combination supports a sister-group relationship between kenyapithecins (Griphopithecus + Kenyapithecus) and hominids. The presence of both groups in Eurasia during the Middle Miocene and the retention in kenyapithecins of a primitive hominoid postcranial body plan support a Eurasian origin of the Hominidae. Alternatively, the two extant hominid clades (Homininae and Ponginae) might have independently evolved in Africa and Eurasia from an ancestral, Middle Miocene stock, so that the supposed crown-hominid synapomorphies might be homoplastic.

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