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Keywords:

  • Dryopithecus;
  • Miocene hominid postcrania;
  • Above and below branch arboreality

Abstract

A major contribution of previous analyses of Miocene hominoid postcrania is the recognition of a great ape grade of locomotor morphology in the late Miocene. However, in the absence of a consideration of the taxonomic and phylogenetic implications of the specimens concerned, the importance of this conclusion remains unappreciated. This paper presents a revised view of the positional implications of late Miocene hominid fossils and considers some of the taxonomic and phyletic implications of these specimens. The taxonomic status of a number of large catarrhine specimens from Europe (attributed to Dryopithecus, Sivapithecus, Austriacopithecus, Paidopithex, Rudapithecus) is discussed. The functional and phyletic significance of this material reveals a complex pattern of behavioral and phyletic diversity among large-bodied catarrhines in Europe and suggests that this diversity evolved in situ from circum-Mediterranean middle Miocene ancestors.