Anatomy of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses in Aegyptopithecus and early Miocene African catarrhines



Neontological comparisons suggest that paranasal sinus anatomy is diagnostic of several catarrhine clades such as Cercopithecoidea, Hominoidea, Homininae, and Ponginae. However, while the loss of sinuses in cercopithecoids is generally recognized as a derived condition, determining the polarity of character-state changes within noncercopithecoid catarrhines requires knowledge of the primitive catarrhine condition. To address this problem, the paranasal sinus anatomy of Aegyptopithecus and several early Miocene catarrhines was investigated. Two partial facial skeletons of Aegyptopithecus were subjected to computed tomography in order to reveal their internal anatomy. These data were compared with facial and palatal specimens of Proconsul, Limnopithecus, Dendropithecus, Rangwapithecus, and Kalepithecus in the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi, and to wet and dry specimens of living taxa. Results confirm that cercopithecoid paranasal anatomy is derived, and reveal that the sinus anatomy of stem catarrhines included a hominoid-like maxillary sinus as well as an ethmofrontal system like that of hominines. Accordingly, these two features do not constitute evidence for the hominoid, hominid, or hominine status of any fossil species. Conversely, the absence of the ethmofrontal sinus system in Sivapithecus and Pongo is synapomorphic. In addition, features of the nasal cavity of Limnopithecus and Kalepithecus support previous suggestions that these taxa are stem catarrhines rather than hominoids. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.