Catarrhine Dental Variability and Species Recognition in the Fossil Record

  • J. Michael Plavcan
Part of the Advances in Primatology book series (AIPR)


Debate about species recognition in the primate fossil record is pervasive. Numerous studies have come to different conclusions regarding the sexual and taxonomic composition of, for example, Proconsul samples from East Africa (Kelley, 1987; Pickford, 1986), Sivapithecus from Asia (Kay, 1982a,b; Wu and Oxnard, 1983), hominoids from Rain Ravine (Kay, 1982a, Martin and Andrews, 1984), Australopithecus afarensis (Cole and Smith, 1987; Johanson et al, 1982; Kimbel et ai, 1985; Kimbel and White, 1988; Olson, 1981, 1985; Senut and Tardieu, 1985), A. africanus (Zwell and Pilbeam, 1972), and Homo habilis (Wood, 1985, this volume), to name a few. Since the majority of fossil specimens consist of teeth, a good deal of this debate centers on the interpretation of dental variation.


Sexual Dimorphism Fossil Record Extant Species Species Recognition Extinct Species 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bown, T. M., and Rose, K. D. 1987. Patterns of dental evolution in early Eocene anaptomorphine primates (Omomyidae) from the Bighorn Basin, Wyoming. Paleont. Soc, Mem. 23. J . Paleontol. 61(Suppl. 5).Google Scholar
  2. Bryant, E. H. 1986. On use of logarithms to accommodate scale. Syst. Zool 35:552–559.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cole, T. M., and Smith, F. H. 1987. An odontometric assessment of variability in Australopithecus afarensis. Hum. Evol. 2:221–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cope, D. A. 1989. Systematic Variation in Cercopithecus Dental Samples. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Texas at Austin.Google Scholar
  5. Fleagle, J. G., Kay, R. F., and Simons, E. L. 1980. Sexual dimorphism in early anthropoids. Nature 287:328–330.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Gingerich, P. D. 1974. Size variability of the teeth in living mammals and the diagnosis of closely related sympatric fossil species. J . Paleontol. 48:895–903.Google Scholar
  7. Gingerich, P. D. 1985. Species in the fossil record, concepts, trends, and transitions. Paleobiology 11:27–41.Google Scholar
  8. Gmgerich, P. D., Smith, B. H., and Rosenberg, K. 1982. Allometric scaling in the dentition of primates and prediction of body weight from tooth size in fossils. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol 58:81–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gould, S. J. 1975. On the scaling of tooth size in mammals. Am Zool 15:351–362.Google Scholar
  10. Greenfield, L. O. 1972. Sexual dimorphisms in Dryopithecus africanus. Primates 13:395–410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Kay, R F. 1982a. Sexual dimorphism in Ramapithecinae. Proc. Natl. Acad. Set. USA 79:209–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kay, R. F. 1982b. Sivapithecus simonsi, a new species of Miocene hominoid, with comments on the phylogenetic status of the Ramapithecinae. Int. J. Primatol. 3:113–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kay, R F, and Cartmill, M. 1977. Cranial morphology and adaptations of Palaecthon nacimienti and other Paromomyidae (Plesiadapoidea, Primates), with a description of a new genus and species. J Hum.Evol. 6:19–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kelley, J. 1987. Species recognition and sexual dimorphism in Proconsul and Rangwapithecus. J Hum. Evol 15:461–495.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kelley, J 1991. Taxonomic implications of sexual dimorphism in Lufengpithecus. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. Suppl. 12:103.Google Scholar
  16. Kimbel, W. H., and White, T. D. 1988. Variation, sexual dimorphism and the taxonomy of Australopithecus, in: F. E. Grine (ed.), Evolutionary History of the “Robust” Australopithecines, pp. 175–192. Aldine de Gruyter, Hawthorne, New York.Google Scholar
  17. Kimbel, W. H., White, T. D., and Johanson, D. C. 1985. Craniodental morphology of the hominids from Hadar and Laetoli: evidence of “Paranthropus” and Homo in the mid-Pliocene of eastern Anca, in E. Delson (ed.), Ancestors The Hard Evidence, pp. 120–137. Alan R. Liss, New York.Google Scholar
  18. Johanson, D. C., Taieb, M., and Coppens, Y. 1982. Pliocene hominids from the Hadar Formation, Ethiopia (1973–1977)- stratigraphic, chronologic and paleoenvironmental contexts, with notes on hominid morphology and systematics. Am J. Phys Anthropol. 57:373–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Leonard, W. R., and Hegmon, M. 1987. Evolution of P3 morphology in Australopithecus afarensu. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol 73:41–63.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Martin, L. B. 1983. The Relationships of Later Miocene Hominoids. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of London.Google Scholar
  21. Martin, L. B., and Andrews, P. 1984. The phyletic position of Graecopithecus freybergi Koenigswald. Cour Forsch Inst Senkenberg 69:25–40.Google Scholar
  22. Napier, P H. 1981 Catalogue of Primates in the British Museum (Natural History) and Elsewhere in the British Iles. Part II: Family Cercopithecidae, Subfamily Cercopithecinae. British Museum (Natural History), LondonGoogle Scholar
  23. Napier, P H. 1985. Catalogue of Primates in the British Museum (Natural History) and Elsewhere in the British Iles Part III: Family Cercopithecidae, Subfamily Colobinae. British Museum (Natural History), LondonGoogle Scholar
  24. Olson, T. R. 1981. Basicranial morphology of the extant hominoids and Pliocene hominids: the new material from the Hadar Formation, Ethiopia and its significance m early human evolution and taxonomy, in: C. B. Stringer (ed.), Aspects of Human Evolution, pp. 99–128. Taylor and Francis, London.Google Scholar
  25. Olson, T. R. 1985. Cranial morphology and systematics of the Hadar Formation hominids and “Australopithecus” africanus, in: E. Delson (ed.), Ancestors The Hard Evididence. pp. 102–119. Alan R. Liss, New York.Google Scholar
  26. Pickford, M. 1986. Sexual dimorphism in Proconsul, in: M. Pickford and B. Chiarelli (eds.), Sexual Dimorphism in Living and Fossil Primates, pp. 133–170. 11 Sedicesimo, Firenze.Google Scholar
  27. Plavcan, J. M. 1989. The coefficient of variation as an indicator of intra- and interspecific variability in fossil assemblages. Am J Phys Anthropol 78:285.Google Scholar
  28. Plavcan, J. M. 1990. Sexual Dimorphism in the Dentition of Extant Anthropoid Primates. Ph.D. Dissertation, University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, MI.Google Scholar
  29. Senut, B., and Tardieu, C. 1985 Functional aspects of PlioPleistocene hominid limb bones: implications for taxonomy and phylogeny, in: E. Delson (ed.), Ancestors: The Hard Evidence, pp. 193–201. Alan R. Liss, New York.Google Scholar
  30. Simpson, G. G. 961 Principles of Animal Taxonomy. Columbia University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  31. Simpson, G. G., Roe, A., and Lewontin, R. C. 1960. Quantitative Zoology. Harcourt, Brace and Co., New YorkGoogle Scholar
  32. Sokal, R. R., and Rohlf, R.J. 1981. Biometry W. H. Freeman and Company, San Francisco.Google Scholar
  33. Tattersall, I. 1986 Species recognition in human paleontology. J. Hum. Evol 15:165–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Thorington, R. W., and Groves, C. P. 1970. An annotated classification of the Cercopithecoidea, in: J. R. Napier and P. R. Napier (eds.), Old World Monkeys: Evolution, Systematics, and Behavior, pp. 629–647. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  35. Vitzthum, V. J. 1990. Odontometric variation within and between taxonomic levels of Cer- copithecidae: implications for interpretations of fossil samples. Hum Evol 5:359–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wiley, E. O. 1981. Phylogenetics The Theory and Practice of Phylogenetic Systematics. John Wiley and Sons, New York.Google Scholar
  37. Wood, B. 1985. Early Homo in Kenya, and its systematic relationships, in- E Delson (ed.), Ancestors: The Hard Evidence, pp. 206–214. Alan R. Liss, New York.Google Scholar
  38. Wu, R., and Oxnard, C. E. 1983. Ramapithecus and Sivapithecus from China: some implications for higher primate evolution. Am. J. Pnmatol 5:303–344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Zwell, M., and Pilbeam, D. 1972. The single species hypothesis, sexual dimorphism, and variability in early hominids. Yrbk. Phys Anthropol 16:69–79.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Michael Plavcan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA

Personalised recommendations