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Journal of human evolution

Catarrhine hallucal metatarsals from the early Miocene site of Songhor, Kenya.


PMID 28622929

Abstract

Songhor is an early Miocene fossil locality in Kenya known for its diverse primate assemblage that includes catarrhine species belonging to the genera Kalepithecus, Limnopithecus, Dendropithecus, Rangwapithecus, and Proconsul. Expeditions to Songhor since the 1930s have recovered unassociated catarrhine postcranial remains from both the fore- and hindlimbs, including multiple elements from the feet. In this study, we describe KNM-SO 31233, a complete left hallucal metatarsal (Mt1), along with several other fragmentary Mt1 specimens (KNM-SO 1080, 5129, 5141, 22235). These fossils were compared to extant catarrhines and platyrrhines, as well as available fossil Miocene catarrhine Mt1s. Morphometric data were obtained from 3D surface renderings and subjected to a number of analyses to assess their phenetic affinity with the comparative sample, make predictions of body mass, and to infer their functional morphology. The size and shape of the Songhor Mt1s are diverse, exhibiting a large robust morph (KNM-SO 5141) similar in size but not in shape to extant African apes, medium-sized morphs (KNM-SO 1080, 5129 and 22235), and a smaller, slender one (KNM-SO 31233) that has a shape resembling arboreal quadrupedal leaping monkeys and suspensory atelines and hylobatids. KNM-SO 31233 is unlike other known fossil Mt1s, and in general, none of the Songhor Mt1s resembled any single extant anthropoid clade or species. The morpho-functional diversity of Songhor Mt1s is consistent with an extensive morphological and phylogenetic catarrhine diversity in the early part of the Miocene epoch.

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