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Keywords:

  • Pitheciinae;
  • Platyrrhini;
  • Collón Cura formation;
  • Miocene;
  • Argentina;
  • dental anatomy

Abstract

We report here a new fossil primate from the middle Miocene of Argentina. The material consists of isolated teeth, mandibular fragments, and a talus. The fossils were collected in the Collón Cura formation at Cañadón del Tordillo in Neuquén Province. An age of 15.71 ± 0.07 Ma has been reported for the Pilcaniyeu Ignimbrite, which lies just below the paleosols in which the fossils were found. This material is thus the youngest occurrence of fossil primates in Argentina (hitherto documented in the Santacrucian and older land mammal ages) but still is older than the middle Miocene platyrrhine primates from La Venta, Colombia, in particular the pitheciins Nuciruptor and Cebupithecia. The material is recognized as a new genus and species of Pitheciinae, Propithecia neuquenensis. The mesiodistally compressed, high-crowned incisors are specialized and similar to species in the tribe Pithecini and to the nonpitheciin Soriacebus (early Miocene, Patagonia). We rule out a phylogenetic relationship to the latter because of differences in molar morphology. Propithecia does, however, fit well into the pattern of pitheciin evolution, being more derived than the middle Miocene pitheciin Nuciruptor but not as much as another middle Miocene taxon, Cebupithecia. As such, this makes Propithecia the oldest taxon that can be confidently placed within this modern New World monkey subfamily. By analogy with the molar structures and diets of extant platyrrhines, Propithecia has a molar structure consistent with a variety of low-fiber diets ranging from fruit and gum to seeds. Its incisors suggest seed-eating in much the same way as extant pitheciins, like Pithecia. The talus resembles that of Callicebus, suggesting arboreal quadrupedal locomotion. Am. J. Primatol. 45:317–336, 1998. © 1998 Wiley-Liss, Inc.