Cladistic analysis of extant and fossil African papionins using craniodental data

“This study examines African papionin phylogenetic history through a comprehensive cladistic analysis of extant and fossil craniodental morphology using both quantitative and qualitative characters. To account for the well-documented influence of allometry on the papionin skull, the general allometric coding method was applied to characters determined to be significantly affected by allometry. Results of the analyses suggest that ParapapioPliopapio, and Papio izodi are stem African papionin taxa. Crown Plio-Pleistocene African papionin taxa include GorgopithecusLophocebus cf. albigenaProcercocebusSoromandrillus (new genus defined herein) quadratirostris, and, most likely, Dinopithecus. Furthermore,S. quadratirostris is a member of a clade also containing MandrillusCercocebus, and Procercocebus?Theropithecus baringensis is strongly supported as a primitive member of the genus TheropithecusGorgopithecus is closely related to Papio and Lophocebus; and Theropithecus is possibly the most primitive crown African papionin taxon. Finally, character transformation analyses identify a series of morphological transformations during the course of papionin evolution. The origin of crown African papionins is diagnosed, at least in part, by the appearance of definitive and well-developed male maxillary ridges and maxillary fossae. Among crown African papionins, PapioLophocebus, and Gorgopithecus are further united by the most extensive development of the maxillary fossae. The SoromandrillusMandrillus/Cercocebus/Procercocebus clade is diagnosed by upturned nuchal crests (especially in males), widely divergent temporal lines (especially in males), medially oriented maxillary ridges in males, medially oriented inferior petrous processes, and a tendency to enlarge the premolars as an adaptation for hard-object food processing. The adaptive origins of the genus Theropithecus appear associated with a diet requiring an increase in size of the temporalis, the optimal placement of occlusal forces onto the molar battery, and an increase in the life of the posterior dentition. This shift is associated with the evolution of distinctive morphological features such as the anterior union of the temporal lines, increased enamel infoldings on the premolars and molars, a reversed curve of Spee, and delayed molar eruption” (read more/not open access).

(Source: Journal of Human Evolution 64(5):399-433, 2013)