Apidium phiomense, copyright Susan B. Hochgraf.

Belongs within: Primates.
Contains: Platyrrhini, Catarrhini.

The Anthropoidea are the clade of primates including the monkeys and apes.

Return to monkey
Published 5 July 2007

I hardly feel that this group needs much introduction. The Anthropoidea (the name means ‘man-like’) are the monkeys, and everyone knows what a monkey is (Groucho Marx supposedly once claimed that the word ‘duck’ was the funniest in the English language, but I’m sure that the word ‘monkey’ mustn’t be far behind). Modern-day anthropoids fall into two clades, the New World Platyrrhini (New World monkeys) and the Old World Catarrhini (Old World monkeys and apes, including humans). There is also a handful of fossil taxa that probably fall outside the crown group such as Parapithecidae and Eosimiidae. It seems pretty clear that the Anthropoidea were Old World in origin, possibly Asian (Beard & Wang 2004). How the ancestors of the Platyrrhini managed to turn up in South America is something of a mystery—it seems most likely that they dispersed there from Africa, but how they managed to cross the Atlantic remains an open question (Schrago & Russo 2003). However they did it, it is possible that the ancestors of the South American caviomorph rodent radiation arrived the same way at the same time (Schrago & Russo 2003).

Anthropoids are fairly easy to recognise, or at least the modern ones are. The eyes are more vertically-positioned than in other primates, among other features. At some point, the ancestors of anthropoids also lost the ability to produce ascorbic acid (vitamin C), which is why we have to receive it from our diet (apparently the only other animals to suffer from this deficiency are guinea pigs). It has even been suggested that this loss has been a major factor in anthropoid evolution, as mutation increases in the absence of ascorbate’s antioxidant effect (Challem 1997). However, the rate of evolution of the hominoid (humans and apes) branch, at least, seems to have been reduced relative to other primates (Tëtushkin 2003).

Systematics of Anthropoidea
<==Anthropoidea [Pithecoidea, Qatraniidae, Simiiformes]
    |  i. s.: TabeliaSS01
    |         Plesiopithecus terasSP09
    |--Altiatlasius Sige et al. 1990NG13, SM93
    |    `--A. koulchiiNG13
       |    |--AfrotarsiidaeCC12
       |    |    |--Afrasia Chaimanee, Chavasseau et al. 2012CC12
       |    |    |    `--*A. djijidae Chaimanee, Chavasseau et al. 2012CC12
       |    |    `--Afrotarsius Simons & Brown 1985SM93
       |    |         |--A. chatrathi Simons & Bown 1985G91
       |    |         `--A. libycus Jaeger, Beard et al. 2010JB10
       |    `--Eosimias Beard et al. 1994NG13, MA05 [Eosimiidae]
       |         |  i. s.: E. dawsonaeJB10
       |         |         E. paukkaungensisCC12
       |         |--E. sinensisNG13
       |         `--+--E. centennicusNG13
       |            `--+--Bahinia Jaeger et al. 1999NG13, MA05
       |               |    `--B. pondaungensisSS01
       |               `--Phenacopithecus Beard & Wang 2004NG13, MA05
       |                    |--P. krishtalkaiSS05
       |                    `--P. xueshiiSS05
          |    |--Serapia eocaenaNG13
          |    `--Proteopithecus Simons 1989NG13, G91
          |         `--P. sylviaeSP09
          `--+--Phileosimias Marivaux, Antoine et al. 2005NG13, MA05
             |    |--*P. kamali Marivaux, Antoine et al. 2005MA05
             |    `--P. brahuiorum Marivaux, Antoine et al. 2005MA05
             `--Biretia de Bonis et al. 1988NG13, SS05 [Parapithecidae, Parapithecoidea]
                  |  i. s.: B. piveteaui de Bonis et al. 1988JB10
                  |--B. fayumensis Seiffert, Simons et al. 2005NG13, SS05
                  `--+--B. megalopsis Seiffert, Simons et al. 2005NG13, SS05
                     `--+--Arsinoea [Arsinoeidae]NG13
                        |    `--A. kallimosSS01
                        `--+--+--+--Abuqatrania Simons, Seiffert et al. 2001SP09, SS01
                           |  |  |    `--*A. basiodontos Simons, Seiffert et al. 2001SS01
                           |  |  `--Qatrania Simons & Kay 1983SP09, SM93
                           |  |       |--Q. fleagleiSS01
                           |  |       `--Q. wingiSS01
                           |  `--Parapithecus Schlosser 1910NG13, SD78
                           |       |--P. grangeriNG13 [=Simonsius grangeriSS01]
                           |       `--+--P. fraasi Schlosser 1910NG13, SD78
                           |          `--Apidium Osborne 1908NG13, SD78
                           |               |--A. moustafai Simons 1962SD78
                           |               `--A. phiomense Osborn 1908SD78
                                |--Bugtipithecus Marivaux, Antoine et al. 2005NG13, MA05
                                |    `--*B. inexpectans Marivaux, Antoine et al. 2005MA05
                                   |  `--CatarrhiniNG13
                                        |--Myanmarpithecus Taki et al. 2001NG13, MA05
                                        |    `--M. yarshensisSS05
                                        `--+--Siamopithecus Chaimanee et al. 1997NG13, MA05
                                           |    `--S. eocaenusSS05
                                           `--+--Pondaungia Pilgrim 1927NG13, MA05
                                              |    `--P. cotteriSAP78
                                              `--Amphipithecus Colbert 1937SP09, MA05
                                                   `--A. mogaungensisSAP78

*Type species of generic name indicated


Beard, K. C. & J. Wang. 2004. The eosimiid primates (Anthropoidea) of the Heti Formation, Yuanqu Basin, Shanxi and Henan Provinces, People’s Republic of China. Journal of Human Evolution 46 (4): 401–432.

[CC12] Chaimanee, Y., O. Chavasseau, K. C. Beard, A. A. Kyaw, A. N. Soe, C. Sein, V. Lazzari, L. Marivaux, B. Marandat, M. Swe, M. Rugbumrung, T. Lwin, X. Valentin, Zin-Maung-Maung-Thein & J.-J. Jaeger. 2012. Late Middle Eocene primate from Myanmar and the initial anthropoid colonization of Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 109 (26): 10293–10297.

Challem, J. 1997. Did the loss of endogenous ascorbate propel the evolution of Anthropoidea and Homo sapiens? Medical Hypotheses 48: 387–392.

[G91] Groves, C. P. 1991. A Theory of Human and Primate Evolution revised ed. Clarendon Press: Oxford.

[JB10] Jaeger, J.-J., K. C. Beard, Y. Chaimanee, M. Salem, M. Benammi, O. Hlal, P. Coster, A. A. Bilal, P. Duringer, M. Schuster, X. Valentin, B. Marandat, L. Marivaux, E. Métais, O. Hammuda & M. Brunet. 2010. Late middle Eocene epoch of Libya yields earliest known radiation of African anthropoids. Nature 467: 1095–1098.

[MA05] Marivaux, L., P.-O. Antoine, S. R. H. Baqri, M. Benammi, Y. Chaimanee, J.-Y. Crochet, D. de Franceschi, N. Iqbal, J.-J. Jaeger, G. Métais, G. Roohi & J.-L. Welcomme. 2005. Anthropoid primates from the Oligocene of Pakistan (Bugti Hills): data on early anthropoid evolution and biogeography. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 102 (24): 8436–8441.

[NG13] Ni, X., D. L. Gebo, M. Dagosto, J. Meng, P. Tafforeau, J. J. Flynn & K. C. Beard. 2013. The oldest known primate skeleton and early haplorhine evolution. Nature 498: 60–64.

[R06] Rose, K. D. 2006. The Beginning of the Age of Mammals. John Hopkins University Press: Baltimore.

Schrago, C. G., & C. A. M. Russo. 2003. Timing the origin of New World monkeys. Molecular Biology and Evolution 20 (10): 1620–1625.

[SP09] Seiffert, E. R., J. M. G. Perry, E. L. Simons & D. M. Boyer. 2009. Convergent evolution of anthropoid-like adaptations in Eocene adapiform primates. Nature 461: 1118–1121.

[SS05] Seiffert, E. R., E. L. Simons, W. C. Clyde, J. B. Rossie, Y. Attia, T. M. Bown, P. Chatrath & M. E. Mathison. 2005. Basal anthropoids from Egypt and the antiquity of Africa’s higher primate radiation. Science 310: 300–304.

[SAP78] Simons, E. L., P. Andrews & D. R. Pilbeam. 1978. Cenozoic apes. In: Maglio, V. J., & H. B. S. Cooke (eds) Evolution of African Mammals pp. 120–146. Harvard University Press: Cambridge (Massachusetts).

[SD78] Simons, E. L., & E. Delson. 1978. Cercopithecidae and Parapithecidae. In: Maglio, V. J., & H. B. S. Cooke (eds) Evolution of African Mammals pp. 100–119. Harvard University Press: Cambridge (Massachusetts).

[SS01] Simons, E. L., E. R. Seiffert, P. S. Chatrath & Y. Attia. 2001. Earliest record of a parapithecid anthropoid from the Jebel Qatrani Formation, northern Egypt. Folia Primatol. 72: 316–331.

[SM93] Stucky, R. K., & M. C. McKenna. 1993. Mammalia. In: Benton, M. J. (ed.) The Fossil Record 2 pp. 739–771. Chapman & Hall: London.

Tëtushkin, E. Ya. 2003. Rates of molecular evolution of primates. Genetika 39 (7): 869-887 (translated: Russian Journal of Genetics 39 (7): 721–736.

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