Know Your Primate: Anoiapithecus brevirostris

Order: Primates
Suborder: Haplorrhini
Family: Hominidae
Subfamily: incertae sedis
Tribe: Dryopithecini
Genus: Anoiapithecus
Species: Anoiapithecus brevirostris

I have chosen Anoiapithecus brevirostris for this week’s “know Your Primate” because a paper on it has recently been published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The paper, by Alba, Fortuny, and Moya-Sola, looks at enamel thickness in Anoiapithecus brevirostris, Pierolapithecus catalaunicus, and Dryopithecus fontani.
I”l have more about the paper later in the week.

Anoiapithecus brevirostris is an ape fossil from the middle Miocene (~11.9 MYA) of Spain. Moya-Sola et al 2009 describe the fossil thus:

The face of IPS43000 (Fig. 1) lacks the nasals and the right maxilla, some parts of the orbits, and parts of both zygomatics. The palate is nearly complete, lacking only the left C1 and M3, as well as the incisors; part of the frontal also is preserved. The mandible preserves the symphysis and a large portion of the 2 corpora, but lacks the 2 rami; the left I1 and C1-M2 series and the right C1-M1 series are preserved. Complete eruption of the M3 indicates that IPS43000 belongs to an adult individual, because the slight displacement of this tooth from the alveolar plane merely results from bone distortion at the level of M2-M3.

Here is a picture:

Cranium and mandible of Anoiapithecus brevirostris (IPS43000, holotype). (A) Right lateral view. (B) Frontal view. (C) Left lateral view. (D) Superior view. (E) Palatal view. (F) Occlusal view of the mandible. (G) CT scan of the rightM2, showing enamel thickness. All photographs were taken with the tooth row oriented horizontally. For safety reasons, the cranial reconstruction (A–D) is based on casts of the original specimens

(Picture Source)

Moya-Sola et al 2009 go on to state that Anoiapithecus brevirostris shares several synapomorphies with Kenyapithecines and hominids. As mentioned above, the new paper looks at enamel thickness in Anoiapithecus brevirostris and indicates that it had thick enamel (as did Pierolapithecus catalaunicus but not Dryopithecus fontani). The authors interpret the thick enamel as an adaptation to feeding on hard or unripe fruits (at least as fall back foods)

Literature Cited

Alba, Fortuny, and Moya-Sola (2010) Enamel thickness in the Middle Miocene great apes Anoiapithecus, Pierolapithecus and Dryopithecus

Moya-Sola et al (2009) A unique Middle Miocene European hominoid and the origins of the great ape and human clade

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