2005 Volume 113 Issue 1 Pages 43-51
Catarrhines originated in Afro-Arabia during the Paleogene, and were restricted to this zoogeographic province until the early Miocene. During this period of isolation, several major clades of catarrhines originated. The pliopithecoids were the first catarrhines to migrate out of Africa at ~18–20 Ma, while contemporary proconsulids and dendropithecids may have been restricted to Afro-Arabia. Hominoids and Old World monkeys originated in Africa prior to 20 Ma, but neither clade became an important component of the catarrhine fauna until the middle to late Miocene. At ~15–17 Ma, hominoids expanded into Eurasia, while cercopithecids arrived somewhat later, during the late Miocene. The earliest catarrhines in Eurasia, Dionysopithecus and Platodontopithecus from Sihong in China (~17–18 Ma), represent the primitive sister group of all other pliopithecoids. From this ancestral stock in Asia, the more specialized pliopithecines extended their range westwards into Europe by ~16–17 Ma, where a pliopithecine-like common ancestor gave rise to the crouzeliines. The only known crouzeliine from Asia, Laccopithecus, from the late Miocene of China, points to a late arrival of this clade in the region. Small catarrhines from the middle Miocene of Pakistan (~16–17 Ma), and new material from China, may possibly have closer ties with dendropithecids, proconsulids, or hylobatids.