Similarities in Aegyptopithecus and Afropithecus facial morphology.

M. G. Leakey, R. E. Leakey, J. T. Richtsmeier, E. L. Simons, A. C. Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Recently discovered cranial fossils from the Oligocene deposits of the Fayum depression in Egypt provide many details of the facial morphology of Aegyptopithecus zeuxis. Similar features are found in the Miocene hominoid Afropithecus turkanensis. Their presence is the first good evidence of a strong phenetic link between the Oligocene and Miocene hominoids of Africa. A comparison of trait lists emphasizes the similarities of the two fossil species, and leads us to conclude that the two fossil genera share many primitive facial features. In addition, we studied facial morphology using finite-element scaling analysis and found that the two genera show similarities in morphological integration, or the way in which biological landmarks relate to one another in three dimensions to define the form of the organism. Size differences between the two genera are much greater than the relatively minor shape differences. Analysis of variability in landmark location among the four Aegyptopithecus specimens indicates that variability within the sample is not different from that found within two samples of modern macaques. We propose that the shape differences found among the four Aegyptopithecus specimens simply reflect individual variation in facial characteristics, and that the similarities in facial morphology between Aegyptopithecus and Afropithecus probably represent a complex of primitive facial features retained over millions of years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-85
Number of pages21
JournalFolia primatologica; international journal of primatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1991

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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