• Size dimorphism;
  • Finite mixture analysis;
  • Archaeolemur;
  • Palaeopropithecus;
  • Madagascar


Large body size has evolved repeatedly in the order Primates, not merely among anthropoids but also among prosimians. Whereas high degrees of sexual size dimorphism characterize many of the large-bodied anthropoids, this is not the case for extinct large-bodied lemurs. This paper uses finite mixture analysis and other techniques to ascertain just how much skull length dimorphism might be embedded in the generally unimodal distributions of skull lengths of giant extinct lemurs from single localities, and then compares these results with known skull length dimorphisms in extant lemurs and large-bodied catarrhines. We show that low levels of skull length sexual dimorphism (or none at all) characterize subfossil lemurs, and we explore several possible explanations for this phenomenon. Traditional explanations of sexual size dimorphism generally focus on body size or mating systems. These are not sufficient to explain the variation in sexual dimorphism that can be observed in the order Primates. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.