Function and Phylogeny
  • Meave Leakey
  • Alan Walker
Part of the Advances in Primatology book series (AIPR)


The genus Afropithecus Leakey & Leakey, 1986 contains fossil large hominoids probably of a single species, A. turkanensis, from four early Miocene sites east and west of Lake Turkana, Kenya. The type (KNM-WK 16999) is a palate, facial skeleton, and anterior part of the cranium of an adult, presumed male, individual. Apart from the type, there are many specimens of upper and lower teeth and several postcranial elements. Nearly all of these have now been described (Leakey and Leakey, 1986; Leakey et al., 1988; Leakey and Walker, 1985). There have been several discussions about the relationships of this genus and the tribe Afropithecini has been named for it together with Heliopithecus and Otavipithecus (Andrews, 1992). Not much has been written about the postcranial anatomy, but it has been favorably compared with Proconsul nyanzae (Leakey et al., 1988) and several functional analyses indicate that P. nyanzae was an arboreal, relatively slow-moving quadruped (Ward et al., 1993). It is likely that Afropithecus, like Proconsul, had a postcranial skeleton that is very close to the primitive hominoid condition.


Proximal Phalanx Middle Phalanx Facial Skeleton Postcranial Skeleton Postcranial Bone 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Meave Leakey
    • 1
  • Alan Walker
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of PalaeontologyNational Museums of KenyaNairobiKenya
  2. 2.Departments of Anthropology and BiologyThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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