Reconstructing the Locomotor Repertoire of Protopithecus brasiliensis. I. Body Size


  • Lauren B. Halenar

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    1. The Graduate Center, Department of Anthropology, City University of New York, New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology (NYCEP), New York, New York
    • The Graduate Center, Department of Anthropology, City University of New York, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016
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An accurate body size estimate is essential for reconstructing and interpreting many aspects of the paleobiology of an extinct taxon. With this in mind, the purpose of this study is two-fold: first, to create statistically robust predictive regression equations for body mass, total body length, and head and body length from postcranial elements using a platyrrhine reference sample, data that do not exist elsewhere in the literature; and, second, to apply those regression equations to the “giant” subfossil platyrrhine Protopithecus brasiliensis, a little-studied taxon represented by a nearly complete skeleton. Building on results of previous work with other primate groups, different skeletal elements, subgroups of the reference sample, and regression models lead to different body size estimates with different standard errors and prediction errors. However, relatively tight clusters of estimates around 20 kg, total length of 1,675 mm, and head and body length of 710 mm are obtained, placing the fossil in the size range of a large male baboon. While not quite as large as the original 25 kg body mass estimate for the fossil, this new estimate is still approximately 150% larger than the largest living New World monkey. Confirmation of its place in a large-bodied size class of platyrrhines has a profound effect on reconstructing the locomotor repertoire of Protopithecus and the evolutionary trajectory of the alouattin lineage. Anat Rec, , 2011. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.