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The eosimiid and amphipithecid primates (Anthropoidea) from the Oligocene of the Bugti hills (Balochistan, Pakistan): new insight into early higher primate evolution in South Asia.
Laurent Marivaux
Keywords: Amphipithecidae; anthropoid phylogney; Bugti Hills; Early Oligocene; Eosimiidae; Pakistan

    Eosimiid and amphipithecid primates document a long and significant history of primate evolution throughout the Eocene in Southeast Asia. Despite the absence of a comprehensive post-Eocene fossil record, it was generally hypothesized that both families left no descendant in Asia. Recently, two new small-bodied taxa, Bugtipithecus and Phileosimias, have been recovered in early Oligocene coastal deposits from the Bugti Hills (Balochistan, central Pakistan) and referred to the families Amphipithecidae and Eosimiidae, respectively, on the basis of dental fossil remains. In this paper, we provide more exhaustive description, comparison, and discussion of these taxa. As for tarsiid and sivaladapid primates, the persistence of eosimiids and amphipithecids into the Oligocene clearly demonstrates that low latitudes of South Asia provided a continuous access to tropical refugia during the climatic deterioration characterizing the late Eocene-early Oligocene interval, which was seemingly lethal for primate communities elsewhere across the Holarctic continents. As a contribution to the ongoing phylogenetic debates regarding the position of eosimiids and amphipithecids on the primate family tree, we have performed a cladistic analysis in a high-level primate systematic context in order to assess the position and the role of these new taxa in that phylogenetic issue. Our results support the view according to which eosimiids and amphipithecids (and by extension Phileosimias and Bugtipithecus, respectively) are stem anthropoids. These fossils from Pakistan document an unsuspected Oligocene phase of the evolutionary history of anthropoid primates in southern Asia, which clearly enhances the extent of the anthropoid radiation in this province during the Paleogene. Several phylogenetic and paleobiogeographic aspects are discussed, notably the intra- and inter-relationships between Paleogene Asian and Afro-Arabian anthropoids, and the resulting potential dispersal models between both land-masses during the Paleogene. 

  Article infos

Published in Vol. 34, Fasc. 1-2 (2006)

Deux nouveaux primates dans l'Oligocène inférieur de Taqah (Sultanat d'Oman): premiers Adapiformes (?Anchomomyini) de la péninsule arabique?
Emmanuel Gheerbrant, Herbert Thomas, Jack . Roger, Sevket Sen and Zaher Al-Sulaimani
Keywords: Adapids; Afro-Arabian plate; Early Oligocene; New taxa; Primates; Trans-Tethyan dispersals

    Two new species, Omanodon minor n. g., n. sp. and Shizarodon dhofarensis n. g., n. sp., known from fifteen isolated teeth, are described here as the first adapiform primates (?Anchomomyini) recognizable to date in the Taqah material (early Oligocene of Sultanate of Oman).

    Omanodon minor n. g., n. sp. displays special morphological similarity to the adapid tribe Anchomomyini from the Eocene of Europe, and especially to the Anchomomys lineage. Resemblances with the extant lemurifonn Microcebus are also noticeable and could be regarded as supporting Schwartz & Tattersall (1983) hypothesis of special relationships between the anchomomyine adapids and the cheirogaleid lemuriformes. However, these morphological affmities can be interpreted, altematively, as the results of parallelisms: important differences in upper molars indicate that the resemblances of cheirogaleids and Omanodon minor n. g., n. sp. are indeed probably due to parallelisms. Phyletic relationship of O. minor n. g., n. sp. to Anchomomyini is finally the most likely hypothesis.

    Shizarodon dhofarensis n. g., n. sp., although much more poorly known, is closely related to Omanodon minor n. g., n. sp., at least at a familial level. The general morphology of this species suggests
    also a close link with adapid Anchomomyini, although precise relationships within this tribe remain obscure. Interesting resemblances of Shizarodon dhofarensis n. g., n. sp. to Djebelemur martinezi lower molars (early Eocene of Tunisia) are also noticeable. These resemblances are even stronger than those betwen Omanodon minor and Djebelemur martinezi. However the very bunodont upper molars referred to D. martinezi are unusual for adapids, and there are moreover some notable differences in their lower molars. Thus resemblances in Djebelemur and Shizarodon are probably due to paralellisms.

    Because of the fragmentary nature of the material and of possible parallelisms, the systematic position of Omanodon and Shizarodon within adapiformes cannot however yet be established definitively. 

  Article infos

Published in Vol. 22, Fasc. 4 (1993)