Primate phylogeny: morphological vs. molecular results

J Shoshani, C P Groves, E L Simons, G F Gunnell
Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 1996, 5 (1): 102-54
Our comparative study of morphological (our data on selected living primates) and molecular characters (from the literature) confirms that, overall, phylogenetic reconstructions of Primates, and consequently their classifications, are more similar than dissimilar. When data from fossil Primates are incorporated, there may be several possible relationships among living Primates; the difference between most of them hinges mainly on the position of Tarsius. In one hypothesis, tarsiers are closely related to lemurs and lorises, and thus Primates is divided into Prosimii [lorises, lemurs, and tarsiers] and Anthropoidea [Platyrrhini and Catarrhini, i.e., monkeys, apes, and humans]. Two additional alternatives are that Tarsius is a sister group to the clade embracing lorises + lemurs and Anthropoidea and that in which all three lineages (Tarsius, lorises + lemurs, and Anthropoidea) form a polychotomy. In another hypothesis, tarsiers are closely related to anthropoids, giving these two branches: Strepsirhini [lemurs, lorises] and Haplorhini [tarsiers and Anthropoidea (Platyrrhini, the New World monkeys, and Catarrhini, Old World monkeys and Hominoidea)]. The first three alternatives gain some support from the fossil record, and the fourth from morphology of the living Tarsius and molecular data. It is emphasized that the morphological characters employed in this study for Tarsius are based on the only surviving genus of once-diverse tarsiiform primates known from the Eocene, and, although considered a "living fossil," it cannot represent all of them. Furthermore, Tarsius embodies derived features of its own which may affect its systematic position, but not necessarily the position of Tarsiiformes. Although the early Tertiary adapoids might have more nearly resembled anthropoids in their biochemistry and placental developments, this hypothesis is not testable from fossils, and any inferred relationships here must be based on characters of skeletal anatomy. Alternatively, anthropoids may be derived from certain omomyids or from some as yet undiscovered Eocene African taxon. Close relationships among Homo, Pan, and Gorilla have been confirmed during recent decades; Pongo is the sister group to this trichotomy. With increasing molecular data, Homo and Pan appear to be closer to each other than to any other living hominid taxon. Gorilla is a sister group to the Homo-Pan clade and Pongo is a sister group to all of them. Morphologists have given limited evidence for such a dichotomous grouping. In this study, we support the Homo-Pan clade, although with characters not as strong as for other clades.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Trending Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"