Biological anthropology, Paleontology
The divergence of crown catarrhines—i.e., the split of cercopithecoids (Old World monkeys) from hominoids (apes and humans)—is a poorly understood phase in our shared evolutionary history with other primates. The two groups differ in the anatomy of the hip joint, a pattern that has been linked to their locomotor strategies: relatively restricted motion in cercopithecoids vs. more eclectic movements in hominoids. Here we take advantage of the first well-preserved proximal femur of the early Oligocene stem catarrhine Aegyptopithecus to investigate the evolution of this anatomical region using 3D morphometric and phylogenetically-informed evolutionary analyses. Our analyses reveal that cercopithecoids and hominoids have undergone divergent evolutionary transformations of the proximal femur from a similar ancestral morphology that is not seen in any living anthropoid, but is preserved in Aegyptopithecus, stem platyrrhines, and stem cercopithecoids. These results highlight the relevance of fossil evidence for illuminating key adaptive shifts in primate evolution.
Almécija, S., Tallman, M., Sallam, H. M., Fleagle, J. G., Hammond, A. S., & Seiffert, E. R. (2019). Early anthropoid femora reveal divergent adaptive trajectories in catarrhine hind-limb evolution. Nature Communications, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-12742-0
Almecija, Sergio; Tallman, Melissa; Sallam, Hesham M.; Fleagle, John G.; Hammond, Ashley S.; and Seiffert, Erik R., "Early anthropoid femora reveal divergent adaptive trajectories in catarrhine hind-limb evolution" (2019). Peer Reviewed Articles. 46.