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Keywords:

  • Proconsul;
  • Miocene;
  • Kenya;
  • Mfangano Island;
  • Hominoid;
  • Postcrania;
  • Vertebrae;
  • Pelvis

Abstract

A partial skeleton attributed to Proconsul nyanzae (KNM-MW 13142) is described. The fossils were found at a site on Mfangano Island, Kenya, which dates to 17.9 ± .1 million years ago. KNM-MW 13142 consists of six partial vertebrae (T12-S1), a nearly complete hipbone, most of the right femur and left femoral shaft, a fragmentary tibia and fibula, and a nearly complete talus and calcaneus. This skeleton provides the first pelvic fossil known for any East African Miocene hominoid. The new Proconsul specimen is compared to a large sample of extant anthropoids to determine its functional and phylogenetic affinities. In most aspects of its anatomy, KNM-MW 13142 closely resembles nonhominoid anthropoids. This individual had a long, flexible spine, narrow torso, and habitually pronograde posture, features characteristic of most extant monkeys. Evidence of spinal musculature suggests a generalized condition intermediate between that of cercopithecoids and hylobatids. The hindlimb of KNM-MW 13142 exhibits relatively mobile hip and ankle joints, with structural properties of the femur like those of hominoids. This mix of features implies a pattern of posture and locomotion that is unlike that of any extant primate. Many aspects of the Proconsul nyanzae locomotor skeleton may represent the primitive catarrhine condition. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.