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Keywords:

  • DNA sequence evidence;
  • β-globin gene cluster;
  • Hominoid classification;
  • Maximum parsimony analysis

Abstract

Evidence from DNA sequences on the phylogenetic systematics of primates is congruent with the evidence from morphology in grouping Cercopithecoidea (Old World monkeys) and Hominoidea (apes and humans) into Catarrhini, Catarrhini and Platyrrhini (ceboids or New World monkeys) into Anthropoidea, Lemuriformes and Lorisiformes into Strepsirhini, and Anthropoidea, Tarsioidea, and Strepsirhini into Primates. With regard to the problematic relationships of Tarsioidea, DNA sequences group it with Anthropoidea into Haplorhini. In addition, the DNA evidence favors retaining Cheirogaleidae within Lemuriformes in contrast to some morphological studies that favor placing Cheirogaleids in Lorisiformes. While parsimony analysis of the present DNA sequence data provides only modest support for Haplorhini as a monophyletic taxon, it provides very strong support for Hominoidea, Catarrhini, Anthropoidea, and Strepsirhini as monophyletic taxa. The parsimony DNA evidence also rejects the hypothesis that megabats are the sister group of either Primates or Dermoptera (flying lemur) or a Primate-Dermoptera clade and instead strongly supports the monophyly of Chiroptera, with megabats grouping with microbats at considerable distance from Primates. In contrast to the confused morphological picture of sister group relationships within Hominoidea, orthologous noncoding DNA sequences (spanning alignments involving as many as 20,000 base positions) now provide by the parsimony criterion highly significant evidence for the sister group relationships defined by a cladistic classification that groups the lineages to all extant hominoids into family Hominidae, divides this ape family into subfamilies Hylobatinae (gibbons) and Homininae, divides Homininae into tribes Pongini (orangutans) and Hominini, and divides Hominini into subtribes Gorillina (gorillas) and Hominina (humans and chimpanzees). A likelihood analysis of the largest body of these noncoding orthologues and counts of putative synapomorphies using the full range of sequence data from mitochondrial and nuclear genomes also find that humans and chimpanzees share the longest common ancestry. © 1994 Wiley-Liss, Inc.