The Craniofacial Evidence for Anthropoid and Tarsier Relationships

  • Callum Ross
Part of the Advances in Primatology book series (AIPR)


Monkeys and apes have long been observed to resemble humans in the external appearance of the head, having a globular braincase, a short snout, and forward-facing eyes. In 1864, Mivart grouped them in the suborder, Anthro-poidea, distinct from the Lemuroidea, to which he assigned lemurs, lorises, galagos, aye-ayes, and tarsiers (Mivart, 1864, p. 635). Although Mivart later (1873) identified a lengthy list of features distinguishing anthropoids from lemuroids, he maintained that New and Old World anthropoids had evolved in parallel from separate nonprimate ancestors. Mivart’s conception of An-thropoidea—a polyphyletic taxon united by numerous distinctive features of the skull—thrived in the intellectual milieu of the “classical primatological synthesis” in which parallelism was seen as a widespread phenomenon (e.g., Le Gros Glark, 1934, 1959; Simpson, 1945, 196D. However, with the adoption by primate systematists of the principles of phylogenetic systematics (Hennig, 1966) and, later, of the parsimony criterion for choosing between competing hypotheses of evolutionary relationships, the assumption of widespread parallelism fell out of vogue. Anthropoids have come to be interpreted as a closed descent community (sensu Ax, 1985), and their distinctive features have been reinterpreted as synapomorphies inherited from an ancestral stem species.


Internal Carotid Artery Auditory Tube Transverse Septum Carotid Canal Pterygoid Plate 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Callum Ross
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological Anthropology and AnatomyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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