The age and geographical distribution of fossil cercopithecids in China

Y. R. Pan, N. G. Jablonski

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39 Scopus citations


Cercopithecids did not arrive in China until the latest Tertiary, relatively late in their evolutionary history. Cercopithecines are represented in the Chinese fossil record by two genera, Procynocephalus and Macaca, both of which made their appearance in the Late Pliocene or Early Pleistocene, but only one of which, Macaca, was widely distributed throughout the Quaternary and remains in the country today. The much less well known genus Procynocephalus disappeared from China in the late Early Pleistocene, but is of considerable interest because it appears to have been part of a radiation of large terrestrial cercopithecines that extended throughout portions of southern and eastern Asia. Colobines are poorly represented in the fossil record of China. Aside from a few scattered occurrences of Rhinopithecus in the Middle and Late Pleistocene records of southern China, the subfamily is represented by only one other intriguing specimen. This is the large and nearly complete mandible now classified as «Megamacaca lantianensis» from the Gongwangling locality of Lantian, Shaanxi Province. The specimen was retrieved from sediments of late Early Pleistocene age and was associated with elements of a typical southern, Ailuropoda - Stegodon fauna. The distribution of cercopithecids, especially Macaca, in China followed the southern and eastern retreat of subtropical habitats during the course of the Pleistocene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-69
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Evolution
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 1987

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology


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