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Proconsul africanus


TAXONOMY:

MORPHOLOGY:
Proconsul africanus had a dental formula of 2:1:2:3 on both the upper and lower jaws (Fleagle, 1988). The third premolar is single-cusped and semisectorial (Conroy, 1990). The molars of this species have thin enamel and there is a prominent molar cingula (Conroy, 1990). This species possesses a robust zygomatic bone and a pronounced snout (Fleagle, 1988). This species has a broad interorbital region and small frontoethmoidal sinuses (Conroy, 1990). The maxillary sinus is restricted in this species (Conroy, 1990). This species has an auditory region which is similar to that of extant apes and cercopithecoid monkeys (Fleagle, 1988). The ectotympanic tube was well-developed in this species (Davis and Napier, 1963; cited in Martin, 1990). This species lacks a tail (Fleagle, 1988). The canines of this species are sexually dimorphic (Fleagle, 1988). The skull lacks supraorbital tori and can be considered somewhat prognathous (Conroy, 1990). This species has a cranial capacity of 167 cc (Walker et al., 1983; cited in Conroy, 1990) and an encephalization quotient of 1.5 (Conroy, 1990). Based on the cranium, this species has an external brain surface much like that of gibbons and cercopithecoid monkeys (Fleagle, 1988). The wrist of this species has been described as monkey-like (Conroy, 1990). This species has a talus in which the trochlear surface is highly curved and deeply grooved (Conroy, 1990). The foot of this species possessed a transverse arch (Conroy and Rose, 1983; cited in Conroy, 1990). Proconsul africanus had a brachial index of 96 which is comparable to the extant genus Pan (Conroy, 1990). Overall the skeleton of this species can be described as being robust (Conroy, 1990). This species had an average body mass of around 18 kilograms (Fleagle, 1988).

RANGE:
Proconsul africanus was found on the continent of Africa and occurred during the early Miocene (Fleagle, 1988).

DIET:
Based upon the dental morphology this was a frugivorous species (Fleagle, 1988).

LOCOMOTION:
Based upon the postcranial remains this was more than likely an arboreal quadruped (Fleagle, 1988).

REFERENCES:
Conroy, G.C. 1990. Primate Evolution. W.W. Norton and Co.: New York.

Conroy, G.C. and Rose, M. 1983. Evolution of the Primate Foot from the Earliest Primates to the Miocene Hominoids. Foot and Ankle, Vol. 3, 342-364.

Davis, P.R. and Napier, J.R. 1963. A Reconstruction of the Skull of Proconsul africanus. Folia Primatol., Vol. 1, 20-28.

Fleagle, J.G. 1988. Primate Adaptation and Evolution. Academic Press: New York.

Martin, R.D. 1990. Primate Origins and Evolution: A Phylogenetic Reconstruction. Princeton University Press: Princeton, New Jersey.

Walker, A., Falk, D., Smith, R., and Pickford, M. 1983. The Skull of Proconsul africanus: Reconstruction and Cranial Capacity. Nature, Vol. 305, 525-527.

Last updated: November 16, 2001

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